Everson Walls and Ty Law are two of the best cornerbacks of their respective eras. Both are Hall of Fame semi-finalists for the Class of 2018, so the Talk of Fame Network invited them back to talk not only about their careers but the agony of waiting to see if their names finally are called by the Hall of Fame.
For Walls, the wait has been a long one. Despite being the only cornerback in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions three times (safety Ed reed is the only other player to do it), he has had to wait 25 years to become a candidate. Now in his last year of eligibility as a modern-era candidate, Walls seemed grateful that the Talk of Fame guys kept raising his name.
“I could just die right now,’’ Walls said of being a semifinalist for the first time. “The fact you guys kept calling me means I’m better off than I was before you called!’’
Walls said he has tried “not to think about it all’’ because “usually I’m out of it by now, and you’re watching someone else put on that gold jacket. The hoopla around it is so exciting.’’
So was Walls during his 14-year career, which was played mostly in Dallas. He was an undrafted free agent when he came to the Cowboys in 1981 and became an instant starter at cornerback, a position he played throughout his career. A four-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro selection, Walls led the NFL in interceptions three times while in Dallas and won Super Bowl XXV with the New York Giants.
Playing for Parcells, Walls admitted, was an unusual but rewarding experience.
“I always said about Parcells he wanted every player on the team to hate him – together,’’ Walls said. “To me, that was genius.’’
So was Everson Walls when it came to covering receivers.
The same could be said about Ty Law, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who twice led the NFL in interceptions and was the backbone of the three-time New England Patriots Super Bowl teams of 2001, 2003 and 2004. Tom Brady was in his infancy as a quarterback in those days but people have forgotten those three championship teams won with defense first and foremost. And no defender was more feared than Law.
Law reached the final 10 earlier this year before being eliminated in the cutdown to five but is back again, along with six other defensive backs. That includes Walls, Tampa’s Ronde Barber and four safeties – Steve Atwater, LeRoy Butler, Brian Dawkins and John Lynch. It’s a formidable class, but Law says he has not scouted the field of candidates.
“I think anyone being mentioned deserves to be there,’’ Law said. “I am guilty of looking up the statistics of some of the Hall of Famers. You want to match up, at least I did, with the great cornerbacks.’’
Law certainly appears to, at least by his personal criteria for a HOF corner.
“Can you cover 1-on-1?’’ Law said was one of his prerequisites. “Can you make the plays? Can you catch it and then do something with it after you catch it? Did you have an impact on good teams? And you got to have at least 50.’’
By the latter Law meant 50 interceptions. He had 53 in the regular season, which ranks him 24th all-time, and six more in the post-season, including one returned for a critical 47-yard touchdown in the Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXVI upset of the seemingly unbeatable St. Louis Rams. To Law’s point of doing something with the ball after you catch it, he returned seven interceptions for touchdowns.
Our Talk of Fame hosts Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge also visit this week with newly named Hall of Fame voter Larry Michael, the voice of the Redskins. Michael’s selection has proven controversial because, in addition to his broadcasting chores, he is also a senior vice-president of the club. Michael was kind enough to come on to discuss the issue and assure our listeners he can … and will … be an impartial judge of the players whose names come up for discussion.
The NFL also mourned the passing of one of its most colorful former head coaches, ex-Patriots and Colts boss Ron Meyer. Meyer rose to prominence leading the rebirth of SMU football with Eric Dickerson and Craig James forming the “Pony Express’’ backfield, then went on to post winning records while resurrecting both the Patriots and Colts.
Former Colts’ PR guru Craig Kelley visits to recall some of Meyer’s funnier moments and explain what Meyer meant when he once said, “It’s time to Simoniz our watches!’’
You can hear the full show on SB Nation radio, by downloading our free podcast at iTunes or using the TuneIn app or you can simply visit our website at talkoffamenetworkcom and click on the helmet icon to listen in.