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Overlooked For So Long, Everson Walls Excited About Being HOF Finalist

For the last 20 years, Everson Walls never put much thought into being a Hall of Famer.

"The first list I would come out, I would make it initially and then got voted out anyway," he said. "So it never really mattered. I never made it this far."

But Walls is rather "far" along now in the process, being named one of the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time in his career. In fact, it's better late than never for Walls, who is in his final year of eligibility as a modern-day finalist.

The announcement will take place the day before Super Bowl LII in Minnesota on Feb. 3. Walls is accompanied by some great candidates, including first-ballot standouts Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher.

But just because Walls has chosen to remain "blissfully ignorant" about the process over the years, it doesn't mean for a second he's not worthy of the honor.

"If I'm not me, and I'm just looking down on the body of work," Walls said, speaking of himself, "I have never seen a defensive back that has so many accomplishments no one has done before at that position. I came in as a free agent from Grambling. Most people mentally would not be ready to make those kind of accomplishments."

Those include leading the NFL with 11 interceptions as a rookie in 1981, which still stands as the most by a first-year player in NFL history. Walls is also the only cornerback in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions three different times.

Back then, the Cowboys had more than 100 undrafted rookies in one class, and Walls recalls being one of about 25 rookie defensive backs trying to make the team.

"No one wanted me," he said. "I was probably the slowest defensive back in our class. But I was never intimidated. I was always confident in my abilities."

Walls played for the Cowboys from 1981-89 before moving on to division rival New York, where he helped Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick win a Super Bowl. A celebratory Walls made the cover of Sports Illustrated following the Giants 20-19 win over the Bills to end the 1990 season.

"Not only did I thrive in one organization, but I also showed my abilities were not attributed to the system," Walls said. "I went from a Flex defensive system to basically a Tampa 2 under Belichick and Parcells. But I think I've proven over the years what I could do. You have to look at whatever accomplishments I made came from my guile and guts."


After his playing career, Walls gained even more respect on a national level in 2007 when he donated his kidney to former teammate Ron Springs, who eventually passed away four years later.

While Walls says he doesn't concern himself much with being inducted into Canton, he is disappointed his name is currently not in the Ring of Honor at AT&T Stadium.

"That bothers me. Yes, it bothers me," Walls said. "I've always thought if you're going to be honored on a national level such as the Hall of Fame, then you have to be shown love on the local level initially. That's just my thought process."

But he also pointed out that other players have been inducted into the Hall before making it into the Ring. As he stands, just one level away from being inducted into the Hall, Walls is hoping to eventually make it into both.

"I'm excited to get (the recognition), but I'm confident in what I've done in my career," Walls said. "To say I beat the odds is a total understatement." 

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