With the 167th pick, of the 2008 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Erik Walden out of MTSU.
Former Blue Raider Erik Walden, pictured here against conference foe Troy, will suit up as a Green Bay Packer for the Super Bowl next Sunday. Walden bounced around the NFL before settling down with the Packers this season. MTSU Athletics
On Feb. 6, he will be playing in the Super Bowl for the Green Bay Packers.
“It just makes you proud, it makes you happy he is able to fulfill and live his dream,” Blue Raider head coach Rick Stockstill said of his former player. “Now he is in the biggest game there is when it comes to professional football. To be able to play in the Super Bowl is something you only dream of as a kid.”
Walden’s journey from Middle Tennessee to the Super Bowl hasn’t been an easy one by any stretch. His signing with the Packers alone was somewhat unlikely.
The NFC Championship team entered the season boasting Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop as part of its linebacker corp. They showed little room for addition.
But for Walden, the journey began when he was waived by Dallas on Aug. 30, 2008, in the final round of cuts before the season. Dallas planned to add Walden to the team’s practice squad, but he didn’t clear waivers as he was claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs a day later.
After going through training camp with the Cowboys, Walden started the season with the Chiefs, had 10 tackles through the first five games of the season while adapting to a new team. However, his single tackle in week five of the 2008 season would be his last with Kansas City.
Walden was cut by the Chiefs on Nov. 19, 2008, before being signed by the Miami Dolphins the next day. This marked Walden’s third team in only his rookie season in the NFL.
He spent the entire 2009 season as a member of the Dolphins, but prior to the start of the 2010 season, Walden was waived again.
After being resigned by the team, he was cut yet again Nov. 29, 2010, after a missed blocking assignment that allowed a blocked punt, a mistake Walden took blame for.
The Packers, having lost multiple linebackers to injury this season, signed Walden Oct. 27.
Four days after signing with the Packers, Walden played as a pass-rusher in Green Bay’s nickel defense, totaling three tackles in the team’s 9-0 win over the New York Jets.
It was week 17 that Walden finally had his coming out party in the NFL. With linebackers Nick Barnett, Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga all on the injured reserve and previous starter Frank Zombo suffering a knee injury, Walden was given his opportunity to start.
He did not disappoint.
With the Packers in a must-win situation to make the playoffs, Walden accumulated 12 tackles and three sacks against the Chicago Bears. He beat out five-time Pro Bowler Demarcus Ware for NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the game.
In the playoffs he has nine tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
He has become an important piece of a defense that has allowed only 282.3 yards and 17 points per game in the post-season.
“For him to have the success he has had this year really doesn’t surprise me,” Stockstill said. “Mainly because of his work ethic and the type of person Erik is. He’s a very resilient, persistent young man.”
Walden is currently nursing a shoulder injury but is expected to play in the Super Bowl.
He looks to play a fairly big role on the Green Bay defense.
“I’m proud for him and I’m happy for him. There is no doubt I’ll be rooting for the Packers,” Stockstill said. “I hope Erik gets (his Super Bowl ring) this year.”