THOMASVILLE -- Bobby Walden had a unique nickname, 'The Big Toe from Cairo', played in Canada for three years and was part of an NFL dynasty in the '70s. But what may define Walden the most is his perseverance -- a trait that helped him be a part of two Super Bowl victories with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Walden was on his way home following a third year with Edmonton, Alberta, content with being through with football. He stopped in Minnesota to visit an old friend, Fran Tarkenton, who was the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings and former signal-caller and teammate of Walden's with the Georgia Bulldogs. Tarkenton convinced Walden to give the NFL a try and Walden was initially placed on the taxi squad before punting with the Vikings for four years.
But Walden's biggest reward would soon follow as he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, though they endured quite a struggle his first year, winning just one game. Soon, however, the Steelers became a dynasty, winning back-to-back Super Bowls in 1974 and '75, two years before Walden's final year in the NFL in 1977.
"I really enjoyed that (run)," said Walden. "That was my highlight."
Walden had plenty of highlights during his football career. He still holds the record for punting average in a game with 63.0 yards per kick in a contest against Texas in 1958. He is second on the all-time list at Georgia for punting average in a season with 45.3 in 1958. Walden's also second on Georgia's all-time list for career punting average with 42.8. Before Walden's playing days took to the NFL, he played in the CFL for three years, playing running back and defensive back while also punting. It was in Walden's third year, however, that he broke his ankle and decided to leave the CFL. Though Walden would soon discover life in the NFL, he expressed no regrets about playing in Edmonton.
"People were great up there," said Walden.
Walden's career in the NFL spanned 14 years, punting for more than 40,000 yards with a 41.6 yards per kick average.
While Walden was part of two Super Bowl victories, it's not what he cherishes the most. Rather, it's the mail he receives from people requesting him to autograph memorabilia.
"That's what made it all worth while," Walden said.
...DENSE FOG ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM EDT /MIDNIGHT CDT/ TO 11 AM EDT /10 AM CDT/ FRIDAY... * WHAT...Visibility one quarter mile or less in dense fog. * WHERE...Portions of southeast Alabama, Big Bend and Panhandle Florida and south central and southwest Georgia. * WHEN...From 1 AM EDT /midnight CDT/ to 11 AM EDT /10 AM CDT/ Friday. * IMPACTS...Hazardous driving conditions due to low visibility. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... If driving, slow down, use your headlights, and leave plenty of distance ahead of you. &&
Perseverancepays off for Walden
- Clint Thompson
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