Former Detroit Lions linebacker Wayne Walker, who once held the franchise record for games played (200) and seasons (15), died Friday in Idaho. He was 80 years old.
In 2007, Walker was diagnosed with throat cancer and in 2015 he announced he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Selected as a member of the Lions’ 75th anniversary all-time team, the outside linebacker and kicker was a standout iron man in the Detroit, where he started for all of his 15 seasons (1958-72). His team records for games and seasons were broken in 2004 by Jason Hanson.
“On behalf of my family and the Detroit Lions, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Wayne’s wife, Sylvia, and to his children, Steve, Doug and Kathy,” Lions owner Martha Ford said in a released statement.
“Wayne was one of our finest players from the decade of the ’60s and will not only be remembered for his career accomplishments as a Lion, but also for his great success as a broadcaster after his playing days were over.”
Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Walker passed on an offer to play professional baseball in order to play football at the University of Idaho.
In his senior year season in 1957, Walker served as team captain, was voted the outstanding defensive player of the East-West Shrine game and played on the college all-star team that defeated the defending world champion Lions, 35-19. Both Walker and his college teammate and roommate, Green Bay great Jerry Kramer, have had their numbers retired by their alma mater.
Walker was drafted by the Lions in the fourth round (45th overall) of the 1958 NFL draft. Nicknamed “The King,” Walker played alongside fellow linebacker and Hall of Famer Joe Schmidt, who in the…