There have been many great athletes who have laced up their cleats and spilled their guts on the gridiron, but none did it with such ease and flair, even in injury, as Doak Walker and Bobby Layne. Doak was always a fan of football even in his childhood days in Dallas, Texas. He went on to play high school football for Highland Park High School, along with his childhood best friend, Bobby Layne. His hometown enthusiasm eventually led Doak to attend Dallas while Bobby attended the Univeristy of Texas in Austin.
At SMU, Doak Walker’s legend was born. He received All-America honors in 1947, 1948 and 1949 as a two-way back. He also punted, returned punts and kickoffs, and kicked extra points. He was named the Maxwell Award winner as a sophomore and in 1948 as a junior he won the Holy Grail of college football, the Heisman Trophy. His collegiate days included trips to the Cotton Bowl Game played at the stadium which would come to be known as “The House that Doak Built.” SMU actually had to move its home games off the SMU campus to the Cotton Bowl facility just to allow more fans to actually watch Doak play.
Doak also played games against his best friend, Bobby Layne, who was the quarterback for the University of Texas Longhorns, and helped fuel the SMU/UT rivalry. Bobby was possibly the greatest quarterback in UT history, as he was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores.
Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Doak was eventually inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959 and Bobby joined him there 9 years later in 1968.
After his days at SMU, Doak re-joined best friend Bobby Layne, and played with the Detroit Lions of the NFL. In Detroit, Doak and Bobby put their amazing talents together and created one of the greatest two-man forces in sports history, along with numerous personal achievements. The future six-year pro, Doak helped the Lions win NFL championships in 1952 and 1953. He was named a Four-Time All-Pro and received Five Pro-Bowl Selections. Layne played 15 seasons in the NFL, and upon retiring, he held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed (1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196). Layne was also credited with creating the two-minute offense. It was these many accomplishments, coupled with hard work and uncanny clutch play that landed both Doak and Bobby an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Doak in 1986 and Bobby in 1967).
Bobby passed away in 1986, shortly after presenting Doak into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1989, the school that allowed Doak to showcase his amazing talent, named the National Collegiate Running Back Award in his honor.The Doak Walker Award was established and immediately became one of the most prestigious awards given for college football. This led to the SMU Sports luncheon series and the DoakWalker Legend’s Award.
Both men lived a life that was full of great accomplishments.From their childhood days, to high school, days of military service, playing injured, and overcoming obstacles to achieve big feats in the NFL and post-NFL, it’s an incredible story. Doak and Bobby’s legacy only continues to grow with time. A legacy which 7 Sky will help preserve forever.