Wayne Walker

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Wayne Walker
No. 55
Position:Linebacker, placekicker
Personal information
Born:(1936-09-30)September 30, 1936
Boise, Idaho, U.S.
Died:May 19, 2017(2017-05-19) (aged 80)
Boise, Idaho, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school:Boise (ID)
NFL Draft:1958 / Round: 4 / Pick: 45
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • 3x Pro Bowl selection (1963, 1964, 1965)
  • 3x All-Pro selection (1964, 1965, 1966)
Career NFL statistics
Games played:200
Extra points:172
Points scored:345
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Wayne Harrison Walker (September 30, 1936 – May 19, 2017) was an American professional football player and sports broadcaster. He played 15 seasons with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League, as a linebacker and placekicker. Walker played in 200 regular season games, the second most for a defensive player at the time.[1] He played in three Pro Bowls and was thrice selected as a first-team All-NFL player. After the 1972 season, he retired as a player and was a sports broadcaster for CBS and the sports director for KPIX-TV in San Francisco from 1974 to 1994. Walker was a weekend sportscaster during the off-season during his later years as a Detroit Lion.

Early years[edit]

Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Walker graduated from Boise High School in 1954.[2] As a teen, he played American Legion baseball against hall of famer Harmon Killebrew of Payette;[3] Walker passed on an offer to play minor league baseball to attend college.[4]

College football[edit]

Walker played college football at the University of Idaho in Moscow, then a member of the Pacific Coast Conference, as a center and middle linebacker for the Vandals under head coach Skip Stahley.[5][6] Walker's teammate (and road roommate) at Idaho was Jerry Kramer. Both Walker and Kramer went on to play in the NFL, and both had their numbers retired at Idaho.[6][7]

As a senior in 1957, Walker was a team captain and was selected by the United Press as a second-team center on the All-Pacific Coast team.[8] In the East-West Shrine Game at San Francisco in late December,[9] he played on both sides of the ball and had five tackles, three assists, two interceptions, and blocked a kick; he was voted the outstanding defensive player of the game.[5][10][11] He also played in the College All-Star Game in mid-August 1958, helping the pro rookies defeat the Detroit Lions, his new team, 35–19.[12][13]

Professional football[edit]

Walker was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL draft, 45th overall, in December 1957, weeks before Detroit won the NFL title, their third of the decade.[2] He played for the Lions for 15 years from 1958 to 1972.[2] Walker appeared in 200 games for the Lions, a franchise record that was later broken by placekicker Jason Hanson.[14][15] He also scored 345 points, which ranked third in Lions history at the time of his retirement (currently ninth).[16] As a placekicker, Walker converted 53 of 131 field goal attempts for a 40.5% success rate,[2] the lowest field goal percentage in NFL history.[17] On extra points, he converted 172 of 175 attempts for a 98.3% success rate.[2]

Broadcasting career[edit]

After his retirement from the NFL, Walker was the sports director for KPIX-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco for 20 years, from 1974 to 1994, where he succeeded Barry Tompkins. He was also a sports commentator for the San Francisco 49ers' radio broadcasts for over 20 years, and a commentator on Oakland Athletics baseball broadcasts[18] from 1976 to 1980 and in 1985. During the 1979 season, when the struggling A's lost 108 games, he teamed up with fellow southern Idahoan Harmon Killebrew. Walker was also a color commentator on regional NFL games for several years on CBS, working many games with Tom Brookshier, who moved from color commentary to play-by-play beginning in 1981.[19]

Later years[edit]

Walker retired from broadcasting in 1999 and he and his wife Sylvia resided in the Boise area since 1994.[20] In 1994, he began hosting Incredible Idaho, a half-hour outdoor show on Boise's NBC affiliate, KTVB-TV.[21]

Diagnosed with throat cancer in June 2007, Walker lost 60 pounds (27 kg) after chemotherapy and radiation treatment. As of 2009 he was healthy again and had regained most of the lost weight.[20] In October 2015, Walker announced that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease, possibly as a result of the many concussions he suffered during his playing days.[22][23] He died on May 19, 2017, from complications from Parkinson's disease.[24][25][26]

In December 1999, Walker was ninth on the Sports Illustrated list of greatest sports figures from Idaho.[27]


  1. ^ "Former Idaho great, Wayne Walker, retires". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. January 19, 1973. p. 21.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Wayne Walker". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  3. ^ Shea, John (May 22, 2011). "Wayne Walker's Idaho link to Harmon Killebrew". SF Gate. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  4. ^ "Walker, Wayne | San Francisco / Northern California". emmysf.tv. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Wayne Walker". University of Idaho Athletics. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Missildine, Harry (January 21, 1988). "Get ready to welcome Wayne Walker". Idahonian. Moscow. p. 8A.
  7. ^ "Wilkins, Morris Idaho players of the year". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. January 23, 1988. p. B1.
  8. ^ "UP All-Pacific Coast". Nevada State Journal. November 26, 1957. p. 16.
  9. ^ "Three Idaho stars on West's club". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. December 1, 1957. p. 3B.
  10. ^ Boni, Bill (December 29, 1957). "West whips East, 27-13". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 1, sports.
  11. ^ "Idaho linemen shine as West topple favored East, 27-13". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. December 29, 1957. p. 8.
  12. ^ Strickler, George (August 16, 1958). "Stars upset Lions, 35-19". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1.
  13. ^ Jack Saylor (December 15, 1972). "Wayne Walker's 15 Years!". Detroit Free Press. p. 1D.
  14. ^ "Detroit Lions Gridiron Heroes: Wayne Walker". Detroit Lions. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  15. ^ "Player Season Finder Query Results". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  16. ^ "Player Season Finder Query Results". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  17. ^ "NFL Career Field Goal % Leaders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  18. ^ "Wayne Walker dies at 80: Boise High and Idaho grad starred in NFL and as broadcaster". idahostatesman. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Longtime KPIX Sports Director Wayne Walker Dies At 80". Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  20. ^ a b SF Gate.com – 'Time goes by fast' in retirement - catching up with Wayne Walker – 2009-06-04
  21. ^ "Walker to host 'Incredible Idaho'". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. June 17, 1994. p. 1D.
  22. ^ "Former KPIX 5 sports director Wayne Walker suffering from Parkinson's linked to NFL career". (San Francisco): KPIX-TV. October 29, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  23. ^ Vlae Kershner (October 30, 2015). "Wayne Walker reveals he has Parkinson's disease". San Francisco Chronicle.
  24. ^ Kroner, Steve (May 19, 2017). "Wayne Walker, longtime Bay Area sports broadcaster, dies at 80". San Francisco Chronicle.
  25. ^ Dow, Bill (May 19, 2017). "Former Detroit Lions great LB/K Wayne Walker dies at 80 years old". Detroit Free Press.
  26. ^ "Wayne Walker, Lions LB, longtime 49ers broadcaster, dies at 80". NFL. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  27. ^ "The 50 greatest sports figures from Idaho". Sports Illustrated. December 27, 1999. Retrieved April 16, 2016.

External links[edit]