Tennessee Titans’ tight end Delanie Walker has flown under the radar in the NFL for many years. Although he has started more games than he hasn’t, he’s never started every single game in a season for in either San Francisco or Tennessee.
Coming off of an injury-shortened season where he only played in one game, Walker is looking to better himself in what will be his 14th season in the NFL. Walker recently talked to reporters about how he remains motivated going into the 2019 season.
“As an NFL football player, you will never be 100%…”
Injuries are, unfortunately, part of the violent game of football. Aware of this, Delanie Walker touched on how important it is to be able to play through these injuries and work hard to get back from them if he wants to continue his dreams.
There is absolutely no shame in the way that stars like Andrew Luck walk away from the game due to injuries, but those who decide to push through have to know the uphill battle that may await them.
Walker had a major setback after a major ankle injury took him out in the first game of last season. For a player his age, this could easily have been a death knell on his career, but Walker feels like he has more to give and he let that drive him going into a comeback season.
“My mindset is [that] I’m good to play, So long as I feel good to play, I’m going to go out there and give it all I’ve got.”
It is this readiness that has helped make Delanie Walker be an NFL player for as long as he has. Whether starting or coming off the bench, he is always ready to give his team what they need.
Before last year’s setback, Walker had never had more than a minor injury, and he was vocal with his desire to get back on the field all year. He spoke about how he’s always been underrated and how the preseason rankings consistently leave him out in favor of players who have not proven their worth.
He has consistently gotten the ball 100 times and given his teams 800 yards in recent memory, but he has never been considered one of the league’s top players. At 34 years old, it is likely that Walker will not rise to the top of the ranks, but it doesn’t mean that he can’t prove people wrong.
“I feed off of it. It makes me hungry.”
To date, Walker has 5,673 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns. Despite being in his 30s by the time he got to shine the most in the NFL, he was a three-time consecutive Pro Bowler going into last year’s season. It makes sense, then, that Walker would have a bone to pick with those who have not yet given him the dues that he feels he earned.
Walker wants respect more than accolades. He wants to see people give him credit in the way that they would the exciting young players and perennial starters. Even superstars like Rob Gronkowski haven’t been able to get the longevity that Walker has, and while health plays a factor, longevity isn’t something that an NFL player can luck into. They have to want it.
“I’m going to show everybody this year.”
The Titans were 9-7 last season, and with many question marks, this year could go either way. Marcus Mariota appears to be the starting quarterback, and if he can have a healthy breakout year, Delanie Walker and the Titans can only benefit in the process. If things go wrong, the Titans could be stuck in the middle of the pack again. However, if things could go right, a trip to the playoffs or even a division title is not out of the question.
While quarterbacks in the NFL are showing that age is only a number, the leadership of a player Walker’s age could be huge for a locker room, even if they aren’t running every play in the process. Walker has put in the time and work, and it has paid off in many ways. Can he make another leap in his mid-thirties? Only time will tell, we’ll be rooting for him.