Doak Walker, a three-time All-America and the 1948 Heisman Trophy winner while at Southern Methodist, brought glowing credentials to pro football when he joined the Detroit Lions in 1950. Yet many National Football League scouts honestly felt that, at 5-11 and 173 pounds, Doak was too small. They predicted the “big boys” of the NFL would simply overwhelm him.
Walker quickly erased any doubt that he belonged in the NFL. In 1950, he was All-NFL, the Rookie of the Year, the league-scoring champion, and a Pro Bowl participant. The honors kept coming for him.
When Doak wound up his six-season career after the 1955 campaign, he had been named All-NFL five times and selected to five Pro Bowls. It’s no coincidence that, during the his six-year career, the Lions enjoyed their finest years ever with three divisional titles and NFL championship victories over the Cleveland Browns in 1952 and 1953.
Doak was a do-everything contributor for the Lions. His career chart shows entries in every possible statistical category – rushing, passing, receiving, punt and kickoff returns, punting, place-kicking and even interceptions. Because he did so many things, his career figures are not overly impressive except in the scoring column, where he scored 534 points and won two NFL scoring titles. Walker had a knack of making the big plays in the most important games.
In 1952, he returned from an injury-enforced layoff to throw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Leon Hart in the divisional showdown against the Los Angeles Rams. In the NFL title game a week later, Doak rushed for 97 yards, and his 67-yard jaunt proved to be the winning tally in a 17-7 victory. A year later, in the NFL championship, Walker scored the game’s first touchdown and then kicked the winning point in a 17-16 triumph over the Browns.