John Booker Walton (born October 4, 1947) is a former college and professional American football quarterback.
Walton played college football at Elizabeth City State University in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) for four seasons (1965-1968). During his senior year (1968) he completed 114 of 204 passes for 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns and led the Vikings to an 8-1 record. Walton was honored for his performance by being named to the All-CIAA football team.
Walton graduated from Elizabeth City State University in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in physical education.Walton was not drafted coming out of college but was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League in March 1969. He participated in several preseason games with the Rams in 1969-1972 but was never able to make the active roster during the season and spent most of his time on the taxi squad (practice team).
Continental Football League (1969)
In 1969, after not making the Los Angeles Rams team, Walton played for the Indianapolis Capitols of the Continental Football League. His first pro football start came on Sept 2, 1969 when he led the Capitals to a 28-27 victory over the Norfolk Neptunes. Walton led the Capitals to the 1969 Continental Football League championship game (December 13, 1969) where he completed 14 of 30 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns as Indianapolis defeated the San Antonio Toros in overtime 44-38 to become the 1969 Continental Football League champions. Walton was named to the ALL-CFL team and the MVP of the Capitals team. During the season Walton completed 109 of 234 passes for 1,713 yards and 17 touchdowns.
World Football League (1974, 1975)
In 1974, he served as a backup quarterback for the Chicago Fire of the World Football League. In 1975, he was the starting quarterback for the San Antonio Wings of the World Football League where he led the league in passing yards and touchdowns. Walton was named to the WFL All-Pro team. The World Football League officially suspended operations on October 22, 1975.
National Football League (1976-1979)
Based on his success in the World Football League, Walton was recruited by new Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil to try out for the Eagles. Coincidentally, Vermeil was a coach for the Los Angeles Rams when Walton had first attempted to make the NFL. Walton was signed to a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles and from 1976-1979 he would serve as a backup quarterback for the Eagles playing in fifteen games over four seasons before leaving the NFL, at the age of 32, following the conclusion of the 1979 season.
United States Football League (1983, 1984)
In 1983, Walton was convinced by Dick Coury, the head coach of the Boston Breakers of the newly formed United States Football League, to give quarterbacking one more chance. Coury was familiar with Walton and his talent as Coury had been a coach on the Philadelphia Eagles staff during Walton's time there. Despite being 35 years old, and not having played a down of pro football since 1979, Walton agreed to join the USFL and become the starting quarterback for the 1983 Boston Breakers and the 1984 New Orleans Breakers (after the team moved to New Orleans following the 1983 season). Walton was one of the top passers in the USFL finishing second in the league in 1983 with 3,772 yards passing and third in the league with 20 touchdowns while leading the Breakers to an 11-7-0 record and a second-place finish in the USFL's Atlantic Division. In 1984, he finished fifth in the league in passing yards with 3,554. Walton owns the USFL record for most passing attempts in a season (589) which was set during the 1983 season.
After leaving the NFL, Walton become head football coach at his Alma mater, Elizabeth City State University, on January 15, 1980. He was the head coach from 1980-82 going 7-2-1 (5-2 in the CIAA) in 1980, 8-3 (6-1 in the CIAA) in 1981 and 5-5 (3-4 in the CIAA) and compiling a 20-10-1 overall record. He left ECSU to return to pro football as the quarterback of the Boston/New Orleans Breakers.
In 1991 Walton was the Offensive Coordinator for the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks of the World League of American Football (WLAF) under head coach Roman Gabriel who played with Walton on the Rams and Eagles teams in the NFL and was his Offensive Coordinator (1985) for the Portland Breakers.
Following his retirement from pro football, he returned to Elizabeth City, where he has served as a teacher and a member of the city council.
ECSU Hall of Fame
Walton was elected to the Elizabeth City State University Hall of Fame on October 25, 1985.
World Football League (WFL) Year Team GP ATT. Comp. Yards TD Int. 1975 San Antonio Wings 12 338 167 2405 19 22
National Football League (NFL) Year Team GP ATT. Comp. Yards TD Int. 1976 Philadelphia Eagles 3 28 12 125 0 2 1978 Philadelphia Eagles 4 1 0 0 0 0 1979 Philadelphia Eagles 8 36 19 213 3 1
United States Football League (USFL) Year Team GP ATT. Comp. Yards TD Int. 1983 Boston Breakers 18 589 330 3772 20 18 1984 New Orleans Breakers 18 512 280 3554 17 19