Part one of Sports Media 101's interview with Tennessee Titans star tight end Delanie Walker left off with Walker talking about his speech at last year's rookie symposium. Looking forward, Walker may be the recipient of an NFL-wide award for his hard work in the community.
Along with Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Walker is one of the nominees for the 2013 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. The only player in Titans’ franchise history to win the NFL’s Man of the Year Award was quarterback Warren Moon in 1989—when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers and years before the award was re-named in Walter Payton’s honor.
“It’d mean a lot to me and my family (to win the award),” Walker said. “When (we) got the news that I was up for this award, it made them proud. I want to honor my aunt and uncle. If I can win this, tears may come to my eyes.”
“Not everyone has the opportunity to win this. This is prestige. They pick certain guys to go up for this award and Walter Payton was a great athlete and to be honored with this award would be better than anything.”
Walker is one of the few recent bright spots in Nashville, as the Titans franchise has seen better days. Shortly after the season ended, the Titans fired head coach Mike Munchak.
In Munchak’s place, Tennessee hired San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator and former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt as the team’s newest head coach. Whisenhunt, who coached the Cardinals to an NFC title in 2008, has Walker’s full support.
“He is going to come in and change the culture,” Walker said. “When (I was with San Francisco), his Cardinals’ teams were physical, tough and relentless and I think he will bring all of that to the Titans.
“We have the players and I think he is going to bring what we need to make that extra boost. He is one of those coaches who will work hard and I’m excited to have him here.”
In his first season with the Titans, Walker caught 60 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns. Whisenhunt, a former fullback and tight end with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and New York Jets, could have plenty of plans in store for Walker next season.
The offense though could possibly make some changes under center before next season, as quarterback Jake Locker is set to return from a serious foot injury which ended his season after seven games. “When Jake Locker was perfectly fine, we were moving smoothly,” Walker said. “The offense was clicking and he was our leader. If he comes back, he will lead the offense like he always does. He’s a great quarterback.”
Running back Chris Johnson struggled last season in Tennessee and reports have swirled that Johnson could be shown the door this offseason. Walker made his message clear—he wants Johnson back in the red, white and blue.
“I don’t know what will happen with Chris Johnson, but I’d love to have him back,” Walker said. “He’s a great back. At the end of the year, he was running harder, he was getting extra yards and that’s the type of running back you want on your team.
“If both Chris and Jake return, I think our offense will be great.”
Dating back to his time in San Francisco, Walker has always been known as a “glue-guy” in an NFL locker room. Luckily for coach Whisenhunt, he knows he can count on his undersized tight end to stand tall for the Titans, on and off of the football field.
Interview conducted and article written by Sean Tehan.
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