Wayne Harrison Walker (born September 30, 1936) is a former professional football player and sports broadcaster. He played in the NFL for fifteen seasons, from 1958-72 for the Detroit Lions. A starter throughout his career, #55 played in 200 regular season games as a 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m), 225 lb (102 kg) outside linebacker, the second most for a defensive player at the time.
1 Early years,
2 NFL career,
3 Broadcasting career,
4 Throat cancer,
5 See also,
8 External links,
Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Walker graduated from Boise High School in 1954. He passed on an offer to play professional baseball in order to play college football at the University of Idaho, as a center and middle linebacker for new head coach Skip Stahley. In his senior season in 1957, he served as a team captain. In that era, Idaho was a member of the Pacific Coast Conference, the forerunner of the Pac-12. Walker's teammate (and road roommate) at Idaho was Jerry Kramer of Sandpoint, a future All-Pro offensive lineman (right guard) with the Green Bay Packers. Both players were selected for the East-West Shrine Game, the College All-Star Game (vs. the 1957 NFL champs (Detroit Lions) at Soldier Field in summer 1958; defeating the Lions 35-19), and in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL Draft. They were both drafted by the pros in the top 50. In the East-West Shrine Game at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Walker had fifteen tackles, two interceptions, and blocked a kick. He was voted the outstanding defensive player of the game. While at Idaho, Walker was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
Walker was the 45th overall pick of the 1958 NFL Draft (Kramer was the 39th), held on December 2, 1957 (first four rounds). Both Walker (#53) and Kramer (#64) had their numbers retired at Idaho, and both would serve, in mid-career, as placekickers for their respective NFL teams. In college, Walker was the long snapper on the kicks, with Kramer handling the placekicking for the Vandals.
After his retirement from the NFL, Walker was the sports director for KPIX-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco for twenty years (1974-94), where he succeeded Barry Tompkins. He was also a commentator for the San Francisco 49ers' radio broadcasts for over twenty years and a commentator on Oakland Athletics baseball broadcasts from 1976-80 and in 1985. He also broadcast regional NFL games for several years on CBS. Walker retired from broadcasting in 1999 and he and his wife Sylvia have resided in the Boise area since 1994.
As a teenage outfielder in the early 1950s, Walker often played baseball against Harmon Killebrew, the future hall of famer who grew up in Payette, about 50 miles (80 km) west of Boise. The two were the same age (Killebrew was three months older) and were friends for over half a century. They worked together on baseball broadcasts of the Oakland A's in 1979.
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 weight loss.