Former Tulane University safety Devon Walker and the New Orleans Saints met on Saturday to discuss contract negotiations. Walker joined the Green Wave as a walk-on in 2009 and eventually found himself as a captain in the starting lineup in 2012.
During the second game of his senior season against Tulsa, Walker suffered a career-ending spinal injury, which paralyzed him from the neck down. The accident happened when Walker collided with a teammate after attempting to make a tackle just before the end of the first half.
He spent three months in the hospital and has gone though numerous rehabilitation programs since the injury took place. Devon Walker remains a huge part of the football team and has even made his way back to campus to continue his studies. He also gave pregame speeches before each of the team’s matchups in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2013 and helped lead them to their best season in over a decade.
If you recall, the injury is similar to that of former Rutgers‘ defensive tackle Eric LeGrand. LeGrand suffered a severe spinal injury after making a tackle on the ball carrier during a kickoff in October 2010. Since then, he has regained some movement in his shoulders; he remains an influential figure to many, including one of his biggest fans, Devon Walker. In 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed LeGrand to a contract as an undrafted free agent.
Like LeGrand, Devon Walker is an inspiration to people across the country and was even awarded the Disney Spirit Award. The annual award honors college football’s most inspirational figure. In addition, a local New Orleans foundation renamed one of its awards after the former Tulane Green Wave safety.
On Saturday, Saints’ coach Sean Payton made a speech in honor of Devon Walker and even signed him to a symbolic one-day contract so he could be a part of the organization. Payton made it clear that Walker is an inspiration not only to his Tulane coaches and teammates, but to the Saints’ personnel as well. Coach told Walker that the attributes he carries is something he wants from all of his players. It is just another one of many heart-warming stories to come out of the city of New Orleans.