Safeties First

Bud Lea had an odd lead to his Milwaukee Sentinel piece on November 18, 1955:

Bobby Dillon has only one eye and Val Joe Walker only eight fingers, handicapped indeed for playing pro football.

It’s even more bewildering to see Dillon and Walker operate on pass defense. The two Texans are Packer safetymen, a position which requires an uncanny ability to break up enemy passes.

That year the two would intercept 15 passes between them, nine for Dillon and six for Walker, and it would be the culmination of a three-year period in which they were perhaps the best pair of safeties in the game despite playing on one of the bottom three defenses in the NFL.

Walker was drafted out of SMU by the Giants in the seventh round of the 1952 NFL draft as a futures pick, but was traded the following year before he ever reported to training camp. Val was in camp with the College All-Stars in August 1953 when he was traded to Green Bay for a draft pick, and the fleet high hurdles champion started at left safety opposite All-Pro Bobby Dillon through 1956.

Dillon continued to star throughout the decade and is still the team’s all-time leading interceptor with 52, but Walker’s performance dropped off in 1956, and he finished his career in San Francisco in 1957.

Dillon had lost his right eye due to two childhood accidents and wore a glass one. I can find no mention of Walker’s fingers aside from this piece by Lea. However, if you look closely at the 1955 Bowman custom card below, you’ll notice that the index and middle finger on his right hand appear to be stumps.

1955bvjwalker  1954bvjwalker2

1955bbdillon  1953bbdillon3

Custom cards on left are colorized 1955 Bowmans and custom cards on right are colorized 1954 Bowman (Walker) and 1953  Bowman (Dillon).

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