Card: Panini Unparalleled 2016
Acquired: IP 2020, Houston Roughnecks/ Tampa Bay Vipers Joint Practice
After he was selected by the Roughnecks, I was willing to pay a couple of bucks to get this beauty of a card of Phillip. Although the canvas is blasted out with stars on a shiny background- it’s a very unique design and a solid shot of Walker surveying the battlefield. I then tried to figure out the best time to get him to sign this card, being that I’d have to make a long drive from Central Texas to Houston. I passed up a few events that he was the marquee player at, in favor of maybe a bigger event where I could corral him.
Look no further than the Houston Roughnecks/ Tampa Bay Vipers joint practice. I got wind of the event and figured it’d be my best shot at getting both the Roughnecks and Vipers. As a season ticket holder, the league gave us ‘access’ to the field- a joke of a cornered off area on the home side between the 20 and the end zone. I saw Phillip warming up and asked him for his autograph. He gestured to his teammate he was tossing the ball with and came over to sign his card. It’s a nice autograph, minus the smudge, but I see these mainly as like tattoos or scars- rather than blemishes. – They add personality.
Phillip Walker played in college for the Temple Owls from 2013 to 2016. A dynamic passer and playmaker for the Owls, he set numerous school passing and career passing records for the school. He finished with 10,668 yards (830/1,458) for 74 TDs (44 INT). Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2016 NFL Draft, he found himself on and off the team’s practice squad over the next 3 seasons.
In 2020, Phillip was assigned by the XFL to the Houston Roughnecks, after he was recommended by former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. He’d compete with Connor Cook for the starting quarterback job in the Run N Shoot offense and win the starting job.
Walker was an untamed, wild talent, in the XFL to say the least. Every week he’d razzle and dazzle, impressing the local crowd and winning hearts and minds for the league. PJ led the team to a 5-0 record, completing 119 of 184 passes, for 1,338 yards, 15 TDs to just 4 interceptions. PJ had incredible pocket presence and awareness, but didn’t take off scrambling at the drop of a hat. He finished with 24 carries for 99 yards and a TD. Every game the home crowd was behind PJ chanting ‘PJ MVP’. It was electric.
After the XFL folded, PJ signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers for the upcoming 2020 NFL season. He’d be reunited with his former college coach Matt Rhule, who had become the HC in Carolina. Walker backed up Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, starting an 11/22 matchup against the Detroit Lions, and notching his first professional win.