FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys legend Everson Walls met with the media on Thursday morning to reflect on his experience and career alongside longtime executive Gil Brandt who passed earlier in the day at the age of 91.
Walls, who was picked up as an undrafted free agent by Gil Brandt out of Grambling State in 1981, reflected on Brandt's willingness to take prospects from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) which had previously not been utilized in NFL scouting.
"He was a guy that was legendary for the NFL game," Walls said. "During his last years, he was also very involved in the Black College Hall of Fame. He was on the board of that organization, so I saw him every year in Atlanta. He did a good job in his last days and last years of really elevating HBCUs as those early years when he recruited for this team."
Brandt's influence on scouting spans far and wide as he was critical in the instrumentation of computer systems/formulas in scouting, identifying the prototypical size for each position group and looking beyond the sport of football to find talents.
"He was one of the first officials that [said] basketball players could be good football players," Walls said. "I don't care what your sport was, if you were a multi-sport athlete, you were one of Gil Brandt's guys. You look at guys that could do things other than football, it piqued his interest as not only being a good football player, but a good leader for this squad."
In 2018, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys added Brandt to the franchise's Ring of Honor at AT&T Stadium, which Walls pointed to as a big moment for the franchise pre-Jerry Jones.
"That was major for him," he said. "I'm so glad that Jerry was able to do that for him and for his family, because that transition from the old school to the new school – meaning the Tex Schramm days to the Jerry Jones days – that transition was kind of tough for everyone. The fact that he was embraced in that manner, that did a lot for him during his last days."
While Brandt was tough as an executive, his retired days saw his personality show more, as Walls used to tease him about his character post-football compared to his days as an executive.
"He was a tough guy to negotiate with, and that's what I'll remember most about him," he said. "I always teased him about how his change was so evident. I told him he was trying to get to heaven in his old age. He always liked that joke."