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L E’s Stories – “The Doaker: He Was Golden As Golden Gets” – The Story Of Legendary Running Back Doak Walker

Our Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile, was born in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1947….which was virtually a twin-city with Dallas….which were just 30 miles apart…..with many small towns like Husrst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Richland Hills and Irving in between….which all but makes the two cities connected….and explains why the area is known as DFW (Dallas / Ft. Worth)……where the hottest topic in the news were the exploits of SMU running back Doak Walker…..who was a consensus All American in 1947, 1948 and 1949 (when he won the Heisman Trophy in 1948)….so, Bone Daddy was suffused with accolades of the legendary Texas football player during the first three years of his life….whereby if nothing else, the process of osmosis provided him with a lifelong acquaintance and love for Doak Walker.  Therefore, I am posting this story of the Texas legend simply because of that fact….for he is still a legend in the Lone Star State….I mean, after all, the best running back in the nation is given the an award for being just that…..the best running back in the country.                                                                   

NCAAF & NFL – 1945 To 1955 – GTE Athlete Forum Film – “The Doak Walker Story” – With Narrator Bill Melton

Doak Walker (January 1, 1927 – September 27, 1998) was an American football player….who played  college football as a halfback at Southern Methodist University (SMU)….where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1948…..after which he played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions for six seasons, from 1950 to 1955….as Walker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959….and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986…..while The Doak Walker Award, awarded annually since 1990 to the top running back in college football, is named after him.                                    

Football – 2020 – UIL Top 50 Texas High School Football Players – Highland Park RB Doak Walker

 

NCAA Football – 1945 – 1949 – Special Film – “Doak Walker: In Living Color”                                                               

Walker attended Highland Park High School in University Park, where he was a five-sport athlete in football, basketball, baseball, swimming, and track and field.  In 1944, Doak Walker led his high school football team to the state championship game. He and future college and NFL star Bobby Layne were teammates at Highland Park; Layne played college football at the University of Texas in Austin.  Following his graduation from high school in 1945, Walker joined the Merchant Marine.  The war ended in August 1945, and Walker was discharged from the Merchant Marine on November 1, 1945…..when two days after being discharged he appeared in his first college football game for Southern Methodist University…..where he played in five games for the Mustangs in November 1945…..and was sufficiently impressive as a halfback and placekicker as to win All-Southwest Conference honors….and a spot in the annual East–West Shrine Game in San Francisco…..where he threw a tying touchdown pass for the West team.  Walker didn’t play college football in 1946….as he was inducted into the U.S. Army in March 1946…..when his stint was brief, playing football for the Brooke Medical Center service team in San Antonio before being discharged in January 1947.  Following his discharge, Walker re-enrolled at SMU and rejoined the Mustangs football team….when as a sophomore, he led Southern Methodist to a 1947 SWC championship….and was named to a myriad of All-American teams…..then he gained similar All-American honors in 1948, and 1949…..while Doak Walker won the Maxwell Award as a sophomore in 1947…..and the Heisman Trophy in 1948 as a junior.                                                                                                       

NCAA Football – 1945 To 1949 – Special Film – “Classic Tailback” – Doak Walker SMU Highlights

During his award-winning 1948 season, Walker gained 532 yards on the ground….while carrying the ball 108 times for a 4.9 yards per carry average…..plus, he also threw six touchdown passes from the halfback position….while going 26-for-46 and gaining 304 yards in the air.  As a receiver, Walker hauled in 15 passes for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns…..then on the defensive side of the ball, he intercepted three passes…..and he also punted for a 42.1 yard average for the Mustangs….while returning punts and kickoffs….and did duty as the SMU placekicker.  Doak Walker finished the year with 11 touchdowns scored….which combined with his kicking put 88 points on the scoreboard for the year.  Walker’s impact on SMU and football in the Dallas area led to the Cotton Bowl’s expansion and nickname of “The House That Doak Built.”  He also lettered on the SMU basketball and baseball teams. 

NCAA Football – 1948 – Special Film – Doak Walker Heisman Trophy Ceremony

Following his junior year at SMU, Walker was selected by the Boston Yanks with the 3rd pick of in the 1949 NFL Draft….which was held in December 1948…..when the Detroit Lions acquired Walker’s rights from Boston in exchange for Johnny Rauch…..whom the Lions had selected with the 2nd pick of the 1949 NFL Draft…..and that is when the Cleveland Browns held the AAFC to arbitrate their conflicting claims or flip a coin….but instead, the Browns agreed in January 1950 to forego their claim to Walker in exchange for the Lions’ 2nd pick in the 1950 NFL Draft.  In Detroit, Walker was reunited with former high school teammate Bobby Layne…..who the Lions acquired by trade in April 1950…..when the two Texans led the Lions to one of the top scoring offenses during the 1950 NFL season….as Layne led the NFL with 2,323 passing yards….and Walker led the league with 128 points on five rushing touchdowns, six receiving touchdowns, 38 extra points and eight field goals.  Walker appeared in all 12 games for the 1950 Lions at the left halfback position….when he rushed for 386 yards on 83 carries (4.7 yards per carry), caught 34 passes for 534 yards and totaled 1,262 all-purpose yards. He was selected by both the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) as a first-team player on the 1950 All-Pro Team.  His 128 points in 1950 was the 2nd highest single-season total in NFL history to that time.                                                                             

NFL – 1951 – NFL Week 6 Highlights – Featuring Lions Vs Packers Et Al

Walker had another strong season in 1951, appearing in all 12 games at left halfback for the Lions, totaling 1,270 all-purpose yards (fourth best in the NFL), scoring 97 points (third best in the NFL), and leading the NFL with 43 extra points. He was again selected by the AP and UP as a first-team All-Pro.  Walker suffered leg injuries that limited him to seven games during the 1952 season.  He was fully recovered in time for the post-season and rushed for 97 yards and caught two passes against the Browns in the 1952 NFL Championship Game.                                                                                                                              

NFL – 1952 – NFL Championship Game Highlights – Cleveland Browns Vs Detroit Lions

Healthy for the full 1953 season, Walker helped lead the Lions to their second consecutive NFL championship…..as he ranked 3rd in the NFL with 93 points scored….and a total of 978 all-purpose yards, including 502 receiving yards and 337 rushing yards.  In the 1953 NFL Championship Game, he scored a touchdown and kicked a field goal and an extra point to account for 10 of the Lions’ 17 points.  At the end of the 1953 season, Walker was selected by the AP as a 1st-team All-Pro….and by the UP as a 2nd-team All-Pro.  In 1954, Walker helped lead the Lions to their 3rd consecutive NFL Western Division championship…..as he led the NFL with 43 extra points (out of 43 attempts)….and an average of 14.4 yards per touch…..when he ranked 2nd in the NFL with 106 points scored….and 3rd with 11 field goals. He also kicked a field goal and an extra point in the 1954 NFL Championship Game….and was selected by the AP, UP, and The Sporting News as a first-team back on the 1954 All-Pro Team.                                                          

NFL – 1953 – NFL Championship Game Highlights – Cleveland Browns Vs. Detroit Lions

In July 1955, Walker signed a contract worth $27,500 to play a final season for the Lions….and to serve as a special scout for the Lions in Texas in 1956 and 1957…..when at age 28, Walker retired not because his abilities had diminished….but because of the need to attend to multiple business interests in Texas.  In his final season, he appeared in all 12 games for the Lions…..while leading the NFL in scoring with 96 points…..as he scored 11 points in the final game of the season to secure the league’s scoring title.  His 1955 scoring title was remarkable given the fact that it was achieved while playing for a team that won only three games….and compiled the worst record in the NFL.  On December 11, 1955, the day of Walker’s final regular season game, the Lions held a “Doak Walker Day” at Briggs Stadium…..at which he was presented with a silver football engraved with the names of his teammates and coaches.  Walker’s jersey # 37 was also retired as part of the ceremony.  Walker’s final NFL appearance was in the 1956 Pro Bowl at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 15, 1956.  At the time of his retirement, Walker ranked third in NFL history with 534 points scored (not including 21 post-season points) in six NFL seasons…..whereas, only Don Hutson with 825 points in 11 seasons….and Bob Waterfield  with 573 points in eight seasons had scored more points…..while Walker also totaled 1,520 rushing yards on 309 carries (4.9 yards per carry) and 152 receptions for 2,539 yards (16.7 yards per reception).                                                        

NFL – 1955 – NFL Week 2 Highlights – With Steelers Vs Rams + Bears Vs Packers + Colts Vs Lions Et Al

Walker has received numerous honors for his football career which included In 1955, the Detroit Lions retired his jersey (No. 37), the first uniform number retired by the Lions…..In 1959, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame…..in 1986, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame…..as Bobby Layne presented Walker for his induction and said of Walker….”He was the greatest clutch player I ever saw. . . . I’ll tell ya, if we were ahead 28-0 or somethin’, you might not notice Doak on the field. But if it was a close game, everybody knew he was there and he would be the difference.”…..plus the Doak Walker Award, first awarded in 1990, and is presented annually to the best running back in college football….then in 2007, Walker was ranked # 4 on ESPN’s list of the top 25 players in college football history…..and a  statue of Walker was placed between Gerald Ford Stadium and SMU’s Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.                                                                                                                                                                                    

NFL – 1986 – Pro Football Hall Of Fame Special – “Two Minutes Of NFL History” – The Story Of Doak Walker

 

NFL – 1950 Thru 1956 – NFL Films – “Monsters =, Mavericks and Magicians” – The Detroit Lions Of The 1950’s – With John Facenda

Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly said of Walker shortly before his death…..“He’s Doak Walker, and he was as golden as golden gets. He had perfectly even, white teeth and a jaw as square as a deck of cards and a mop of brown hair that made girls bite their necklaces. He was so shifty you couldn’t have tackled him in a phone booth, yet so humble that he wrote the Associated Press a thank-you note for naming him an All-American. Come to think of it, he was a three-time All-American, twice one of the Outstanding Players in the Cotton Bowl, a four-time All-Pro. He appeared on 47 covers, including Life, Look  and  Collier’s.  One time, Kyle Rote, another gridiron golden boy, saw a guy buying a football magazine at a newsstand. ‘Don’t buy that one,’ Rote said. ‘It’s not official. It doesn’t have a picture of Doak Walker on the cover.'”                                                                                                                                                                                 

TV Game Show + NCAAF – 1960 – TV Show “To Tell The Truth” With Host Bud Snyder – Featuring Doak Walker

In January 1998, at age 71, Walker was paralyzed from the neck down in a skiing accident at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. After hitting a change in terrain, he flew 20 to 30 feet in the air and tumbled 75 feet. He died in September from injuries sustained in the accident.  Walker’s ashes were reportedly scattered over Longs Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.  Shortly after Walker’s death in 1998, Texas running back Ricky Williams wore Walker’s # 37 in a game as opposed to his customary # 34 in remembrance of Walker. Williams would go on to set the NCAA all-time rushing record that season (though it has since been eclipsed by Ron Dayne)….while winning the Heisman Trophy in the process.                   

NCAA Football – 1945 To 1949 – Rare Special Silent Footage – Doak Walker SMU Highlights

This simple fact remains today in Texas in year 2020, as it did in 1945….when running back Doak Walker took the field for the SMU Mustangs…..that it is virtually impossible to grow up in the Lone Star State and not be a football fan…..cuz simply put, there is no way that you don’t know who Doak Walker was…..for here in Texas…..our football legends never die…..and that is why The Doaker deserves his place of honor as the subject of L E’s Stories here at ImaSportsphile.                                                                                              

NCAA Football – 1998 – Cotton Bowl Special – Texas Longhorn RB Rickey Williams Tribute To Doak Walker

 

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