If his astonishing interception pace continues much longer, the world will note and longer remember that it all began 14 months ago here against the Redskins. A pair of cowboy Cowboy fans, Willie and Waylon, might even alter one of their ballads to: "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to throw against Everson Walls."
Considering Dallas has two players -- Randy White and Tony Dorsett -- charging toward the NFL Hall of Fame and a gang of other familiar all-pros, nearly everybody except quarterbacks tends to overlook this flowering Wall. All he's done is average close to an interception a game since high school.
Regular receivers, regularly underpaid in the NFL, guys who know where the ball's gonna go, don't always make a catch a game. Neither does Walls. Sometimes, he makes two.
Walls did that four times during the regular season last year. He got two more as only the sixth free agent in NFL history in the Pro Bowl. That was after two interceptions and a fumble recovery against the 49ers in the National Conference championship game. Just to keep his head from cracking the roof of Texas Stadium completely apart, Walls also was the closest Cowboy when Dwight Clark grabbed the touchdown pass out of the clouds that kept Dallas from its sixth Super Bowl.
So in 23 pro tests, in about a season and a half in time if not in games, Walls has intercepted 18 passes. That doesn't count the three interceptions he grabbed during the '81 preseason, when most Cowboys weren't quite sure who he was.
One would have thought that anyone worth a stop watch and travel card, which is to say every scout in the NFL, should have been panting over Walls. He had 11 interceptions in 11 games for Grambling his senior season. Instead, the scouting reports said: glue hands and glue feet. Sort of. He was considered too slow, not worth drafting.
The Cowboys got him for box tops, or some such. When the Colts contacted another football cull who quickly became sensational, John Unitas, it cost close to $1; when the Cowboys called Walls, it wasn't even long distance. He grew up two blocks from their practice field.
Walls was growing ever so slowly when the Cowboys beat the Redskins in the '81 season opener for both teams, the extra back in obvious passing situations. Dallas stole four passes during a game in which Washington had only 22 fewer yards but 16 fewer points.
It was a Joe Theismann with which we have since become unfamiliar throwing that day. That was early in the awful phase of Theismann's sour-and-sweet experience with Joe Gibbs, when the coach probably wanted to yank -- and spank -- him but could do neither.
Theismann completed 22 passes to Redskins for 281 yards that day; he completed four passes to Cowboys for 129. Walls returned his for a modest eight yards, then kept getting so good Coach Tom Landry let him start four games later.
Although he had a string of 96 interceptionless passes rudely broken by the Eagles Sunday, Theismann has glittered almost this entire season, throwing strikes before and after the strike. Walls will be earning everything he gets Sunday.
There is a line of thought around the NFL that Walls is all-pro because the Cowboy front four is all-galaxy, that the Three Stooges would seem terrific with those maulers chasing quarterbacks.
Funny we should mention that. Brian Sipe did.
Walls and the other overachievers in the Dallas secondary, free agents Benny Barnes, Michael Downs and the glittering draft-day star, 11th-rounder Dennis Thurman, took it personally. On Thanksgiving, Walls stole two passes from turkey Sipe.
Still, the Dallas defense is a rich-man, poor-man concept. Up front are three first-round draft choices (Too Tall Jones, White and John Dutton) and a third-rounder (Harvey Martin). In between, are Bob Breunig and two Joe Washington snacks.
Walls and his pals this week are getting an eyeful of offense from Washington's films, Gibbs at his imaginative peak. Or perhaps not. Last Sunday, he had Theismann throwing a flea-flicker off a reverse; this Sunday might find Theismann lateraling to Joe Jacoby.
"Can't wait to see the game plan each week," Theismann says.
More mature, and still mobile, Theismann ought to let us see just how good Walls is. If anyone can survive Doomsday II, hide out among his own massive friends up front and cause the Dallas secondary to play honest defense, it is Theismann. Also, Washington is healthy enough to provide a fine outlet.
Many Redskins have not been in Washington long enough to fully appreciate Dallas Week. Otherwise, Diron Talbert would not have been imported from Houston by WDVM-TV-9 the other night. Great game plan, Talby: pound 'em the first quarter, pound 'em the second quarter, pound 'em the third quarter, etc.
Gibbs might just be bright enough to have thought of that on his own; to keep this a rivalry for Dallas, the Redskins are going to have to offer one more surprise. They are the only unbeaten team in the NFL after four games; they have lost the last five Cowboys games, and eight of the last 10.
If Walls is a worry for Washington this week, he is not necessarily the major one. Dorsett is heavy on their minds once again. Most teams believe they can whip Dallas by whipping Dorsett. Until last season, Dorsett was mostly ordinary against the Redskins.
First Redskins game last year, Dorsett gained 132 yards on 22 carries; second Redskins game, he gained 115 yards on 23 carries. He enters Sunday's game with a throbbing big toe, the result of an injury three quarters ago, and one of football's grand streaks on the line.
In each of the last 11 years, counting high school and college, Dorsett has rushed for at least 1,000 yards. After the fourth of nine games this season, he has 296. So there is a defense against him after all: no game, no gain.