Now it is time to bring you my nominee for the inaugural class of the Jet Press Hall of Fame, WR Wesley Walker. Though he may not have won a championship with the New York Jets, he was one of the more dominant players in team history.
Wesley Walker joined the Jets in 1977, drafted in the second round of the draft that season, with the 33rd pick overall. He made his mark immediately, posting 35 receptions for 740 yards, a 21.1 yards per reception average. He took off in a game against the Oakland Raiders in week six, catching four passes for 178 yards and an 87 yard touchdown.
1978 was Wesley’s first of two Pro Bowl appearances. That season, he eclipsed the 100 yard receiving mark on four separate occasions, en route to career highs in receiving yards (1,169) and yards per reception (24.4).
Keep in mind, all of this dominance, while Wesley Walker was dealing with the disability of being legally blind in one eye. Can you imagine today’s athlete working through that type of issue? I am not sure that I can. In today’s game, that athlete’s “people” would put a spin on the excuses, rather than allowing the player to work through and become a great teammate.
1982 was Walker’s second trip to the Pro Bowl. Though the season was shortened to nine games due to the players’ strike, he was able to post 629 receiving yards and six touchdowns, which would have factored out to career highs in both categories in a full season. In two playoff games, Walker caught 15 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns, only to be stymied by Don Shula‘s sabotage in the AFC title game.
1986 was the year of the touchdown for Wesley Walker. He caught 49 passes, twelve of them for touchdowns, for a percentage of nearly 25%. In week three against the Miami Dolphins, Wesley caught four touchdown passes, one to tie the game and one to win it in overtime as the Jets took the Dolphins by a score of 51-45. He posted his second-highest yardage total with 1,016. Again, he averaged over 20 yards per catch with 20.7. Walker averaged over twenty yards twice more before retiring after the 1989 season.
Here are his complete stats:
Receiving & Rushing
He was the quintessential deep threat, averaging 19 yards per catch for his entire career. He didn’t get a chance to win much, other than 1982 and 1986, but he never complained. He never wanted to go to a “winner”, he “played like a Jet” from his arrival in 1977 to his departure in 1989.
That is why he deserves a place in the TJP Hall of Fame.