Wayne Walker, who played 15 years for the Lions and then spent 20 years covering the 49ers as a broadcaster, has died at the age of 80.
Walker passed away in Boise, Idaho, his hometown and the place he moved back to after retiring from broadcasting. The cause of death was Parkinson’s Disease.
As a center and middle linebacker at the University of Idaho, Walker was a team captain as well as a teammate and roommate of Jerry Kramer, who would go on to have a long career with the Packers.
The Lions chose Walker in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL draft, and he played for them until 1972. He was a three-time All-Pro as a linebacker and was also the team’s kicker, and his 200 career games played were a franchise record until longtime Lions kicker Jason Hanson played his 201st game in 2004.
After he retired from playing, Walker moved to the Bay Area and worked in broadcasting covering both the 49ers and the Oakland Athletics.
“He was the best,” 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He did things the right way that allowed him to get answers and trust from players that no one else could.”
Walker recalled in 2009 that he took great pride in his dedication as a player, which meant going to work every day for 15 years.
“I won the job as a rookie and they didn’t have to worry about my position for 15 years,” Walker said. “I started as a rookie and I started the last game I played. . . . I’ve told my grandkids this: I was proud of the fact that I could actually tell people – and say it and know that it’s the truth – I never took a game off. I never took a play off. I never took a practice off – and I really don’t even remember taking a play off in practice. I went every day as hard as I could.”
Photo via Detroit Lions.