“You’re going to have to have the heart,” he would tell himself. “You’re going to have to come through for yourself.”
Finally, after years of steady effort, the former Grambling State defensive back came to understand one of football’s basic truths: “Whatever was going to happen for me,” Walls said, “would have to happen because of what I did on the field.”
That tireless ambition to overcome whatever obstacles lay in path paid off with league titles in college, pro bowls and a championship in the NFL and, this weekend, induction as part of the third class of the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame. The sold-out ceremonies will be held Saturday at the Hobdy Assembly Center on the Grambling campus. For more details on the other honorees, go to GramblingLegends.net.
“When you start talking about Grambling and all the guys who I knew about coming in, guys that were really on the ground floor, that part of what’s so significant,” Walls said. “They were the ones you think of when you talk about the lore. They are legendary. To be associated with those fellows, that something I am very, very proud of.”
As a senior on the 1980 squad, Walls was one of seven first-team All-SWAC performers for legendary former coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling. They won 10 of 11 regular-season games on the way to a league co-championship, then participated in the I-AA playoffs for the first time in school history.
“Everson was a great technician; he worked hard all the time,” said teammate Andre Robinson, a former GSU linebacker. “He had a nose for the ball. He was always where the ball was going to be, a real smart football player.”
Former Grambling defensive coordinator Fred Collins employed a classic 4-3 look, with the corners on an island. Seldom did they get help from an extra defensive back, the so-called “nickel” or “dime” packages. In the end, this group helped establish one of Grambling’s most dominant periods, as the Tigers won four straight conference championships from 1977-80.
“Things just started to fall in line all at the same time,” said Walls, now a Dallas businessman. “When I came to Grambling, Coach Robinson was at the peak of his coaching career.”
Walls, named first-team Division I-AA All-America in 1980, still holds the school record for interceptions in a season with 11. He later became the only player to top the NFL in picks three times, and led Dallas in interceptions a franchise-record five times.
“I always thought we could compete against any team — on our level or I-A, it didn’t matter,” Walls said.
Yet Walls somehow went undrafted, sparking a competitive fire that burned brightly for the Dallas-area native. After signing with his hometown Cowboys, Walls would craft a stellar 14-year NFL career anyway. He was invited to four Pro Bowls (1981-83 and 1985) — and still shares the career and single-game records for interceptions in that yearly all-star contest.
Walls later called the defensive plays for Bill Parcells in New York’s 1990 Super Bowl victory over Buffalo. He finished his playing days with former Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick in Cleveland.
“Eddie Robinson, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick were my coaches,” Walls likes to say. “I had to learn something.”
This honor follows Walls’ induction into the GSU and Louisiana Sports halls of fame, both in 1998, and induction into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2006.