Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker and his family suffered an unimaginable loss over the past few months with the death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
Arbery was Walker’s cousin and his name has been at the forefront for the need for racial equality in America in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the death of countless others following issues of racial unrest and police brutality.
While the circumstances of Arbery’s case are a bit different than Floyd’s, there is no question that the NFL has opened their eyes to the problem plaguing society and also directly impacting their players. Roger Goodell revealed a telling response to the league’s players calling for change, and Walker joined CNN’s Chris Cuomo to issue his own response.
As he said, the league taking a public stand is a great first step:
“It means a lot because that’s the first step it feels like. Us all uniting as one and trying to accomplish the common goals we are trying to reach for which is equality. As far as everybody trying to unite as one, I feel like it’s great we are getting support and supporting each other at this time,” Walker told Cuomo in the interview.
“Basically the message is now we need to be better,” he said of the situation. “Right now I feel like everybody sees we have to be better. We have all types of diversity in the NFL. We all see each other as one. I feel like we need change and we all see that. We got to come together and unite as one we’re gonna continue to go through this.”
Walker also provided memories about Arbery when prompted by Cuomo, who was murdered in Georgia. As he said, he was a great person who’s memories he holds tight to at this point in time when everything has been confusing following his death.
“He was a great, great soul. A funny person. Always about having a good time. He stayed in his own lane. He always wanted to go out and put a smile on people’s faces,” Walker told Cuomo. “I laugh and smile now about the things he used to do. It’s crazy to think he’s not here anymore. People need to understand he was a great human being and not someone you’d come in and have conflict with. He just wasn’t that type of guy.”
The hope is that the deaths of Floyd, Arbery and others will be the motivating factor for the discussion of serious change in America. Walker sees that happening already, which is only a positive where he sits.
Tracy Walker Named Lions Most Under-Appreciated Player
Which player takes the cake as the most under-appreciated player the Lions have, though? Recently, that idea was explored by Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com, who picked out one player who fit this bill for every team in the NFC. When it came to the Lions, safety Tracy Walker was the selection.
“When defensive fronts and backfields work together well, the result is fewer points allowed, fewer first downs allowed, more sacks and interceptions and a whole lot more pressures (even if they don’t turn into sacks). The Lions’ defense tied for the second fewest sacks (28), ranked third-worst in terms of pressures generated (per my computer vision) and allowed 26.4 points per game (26th). This is my way of saying that the defense was not a source of strength, and the front didn’t help the back, or vice versa. Walker led the team in tackles as a safety (100), and his ability to limit yards earned when he was targeted in coverage ranked 10th among safeties who play the same positions … but Walker did it without the kind of up-front help some of the guys ranked ahead of him had.”
The Lions hope Walker can get more appreciated in terms of his standing on the team and in the league, but it’s clear with the chance they are giving him that they envision this being the case and then some into the future.
For now, though, Walker remains under the radar. That might not always be the case in the future, however.
Tracy Walker Stats
Early in his career, it’s easy to see the leadership role that Walker has taken on, and that isn’t just limited to the locker room. So far, in just a few seasons, Walker has put up 124 tackles and 2 interceptions. 103 of those tackles came last season during the 2019 league year.
Walker has also been impressive as a locker room leader as evidence of this scene in 2019, when he broke down the Detroit locker room after one of the team’s wins.
“Hey hell of a win today man, that’s the way to keep fighting. We just got to continue to build on this week and continue to improve,” Walker said to the team in the aftermath of the victory.
When the Lions traded fellow safety Quandre Diggs last year, they dealt a team captain, but it’s more than possible the team envisions Walker in that vocal role moving forward, and it’s possible they can be expected to get just that from the young defender. They might also get a sneaky great playmaker on the back end who has his best days in front of him.
Indeed, Walker was a big reason the team moved on from Diggs in the first place. They drafted the safety just two short years ago and have big plans for him in the team’s defense along with Will Harris.
With his eloquence on these important matters, Walker is also cementing himself as a true team leader and important voice for the future.