Former Pro Bowl Lions linebacker Wayne Walker dies

Justin Rogers, The Detroit News

Allen Park — For the second time in a week, the Detroit Lions lost a franchise legend. On Friday, longtime linebacker and placekicker Wayne Walker died. He was 80.

Only kicker Jason Hanson played more games for the Lions than Walker, who suited up in the Honolulu blue and silver 200 times during his 15-year career. He was named to three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams and was selected to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Lions 75th Anniversary team in 2008. 

“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 Firestone Ford said in a statement released by the team. “Wayne was one of our finest players from the decade of the 1960s 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.”

A fourth-round draft pick (No. 45 overall) in 1958, the Idaho native passed on an opportunity to pursue a professional baseball career to play football at the University of Idaho. He worked as a part-time sports anchor at WJBK-TV Channel 2. After retiring from the Lions, Walker became a popular sports broadcaster and color commentator in San Francisco. He retired from broadcasting in 1999. 

Walker’s teammate, Hall of Fame safety and punter Yale Lary, died last week.