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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Mike Moraitis

Delanie Walker: Playing for Titans, no ring will hurt my HOF chances

After taking the 2020 season off to get his body right, former Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker wants to join a contender in 2021 in order to have the best chance possible to secure his first Super Bowl ring.

For Walker, it’s all about winning and, more broadly, his legacy at this point in his career. He believes winning the big game could help in securing that legacy and put him over the top for the Hall of Fame.

Walker also stated in a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that he believes his time with the Titans actually hurt his chances at a gold jacket, stating that a lack of exposure is one reason he might get overlooked (H/T Football and Other F Words podcast).

“I want to win a Super Bowl, honestly,” Walker said. “I feel like that helps you in your status as you retire in this game. And it’s sad that that’s something that you gotta have to be recognized sometimes.

“And again, me being in Tennessee — I hate to say this — that hurts my value in any type of awards or accolades because I did play in Tennessee. And you can look at some of the greats like Eddie George, Steve McNair and them guys just not getting them coats yet, and it’s because they didn’t win a Super Bowl and they played in Tennessee… I look at it: if I can win a Super Bowl, maybe that’ll help me…”

The interviewer then goes on to list Julio Jones as a prime example of a great player who may not end up with a ring but is still likely to get voted into the Hall of Fame. This is how Walker responded to that:

“Well you say Julio, but he played in Atlanta. Look at Atlanta and their fan base, look at the type of players that played in Atlanta and look where they’re at,” Walker explained. “When you play in an organization like Nashville, it’s because it’s so small, our fan base is not as great as some of these organizations… Players that played great at those organizations, they get them accolades, but when you play in Tennessee, you don’t get primetime games, you don’t get a lot of people seeing your games, so you don’t get mentioned a lot. So, sometimes you don’t get brought up in these conversations, but when you have a Super Bowl ring, they bring you up in these conversations.”

There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s start with this: Walker isn’t denigrating the Titans or their fans, but rather pointing out the reality that this team in Tennessee is often overlooked by the national media, even to this day.

That, combined with having a smaller fan base, can help derail the so-called “hype train” for a player before it leaves the station; although, neither of those factors have hurt guys like A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry in recent years.

It must be said that Walker did benefit from playing with the Titans, partly thanks to a lack of talent around him that led to him being a focal point of the offense, en route to four straight impressive seasons from 2014 through 2017.

In that time, Walker emerged as one of the better tight ends in the NFL, and did so despite some shoddy quarterback play, something that makes his run even more impressive.

If not for that four-year span where Walker totaled 296 catches for 3,585 yards and 20 touchdowns, he’d have even less of a chance to make the Hall of Fame than he does now.

Unfortunately for Walker, even if he gets his Super Bowl ring in 2021, he  isn’t likely to be a Hall of Famer. In our humble opinion he simply doesn’t have enough seasons of top-notch production to warrant consideration.

If he did, the Hall of Fame would find him, no matter the amount of exposure he received or the amount of Super Bowl rings he won during his career.

The good news for Walker is that, no matter what, he’ll always have a home in Tennessee with a fan base that truly respects and appreciates the kind of player and leader he was.

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