Joe Walton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joe Walton
refer to caption
Walton in 1956 at Pittsburgh
No. 81, 80
Position:End, defensive end
Personal information
Born:(1935-12-15)December 15, 1935
Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died:August 15, 2021(2021-08-15) (aged 85)
Englewood, Florida, U.S.
Career information
High school:Beaver Falls (PA)
NFL Draft:1957 / Round: 2 / Pick: 14
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:2,628
Head coaching record
Regular season:53–57 (.482)
Postseason:1–2 (.333)
Career:54–59 (.478)
Player stats at · PFR

Joseph Frank Walton (December 15, 1935 – August 15, 2021) was an American football player and coach who retired after 20 years as the head coach and creator of the football program at Robert Morris University. Walton played eight seasons in the National Football League (NFL) as a pass catching tight end for the Redskins and Giants. He served as head coach of the New York Jets for seven seasons, guiding them to the playoffs twice. He also served as an assistant coach for the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers during a 20-year period.

Early life and playing career[edit]

Walton was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, in 1935, the son of former Washington Redskins guard Frank "Tiger" Walton. Like his father, Walton was a football star at Beaver Falls High School; both also starred at the University of Pittsburgh before playing in the NFL for the Washington Redskins, followed by coaching the Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers.[1]

After initially enrolling at Indiana University Bloomington, Walton attended the University of Pittsburgh on a football scholarship.[2][3] While there, Walton helped lead the Pittsburgh Panthers to the 1956 Sugar Bowl following the 1955 season and then to the 1956 Gator Bowl in his senior season. In 1955, his junior year Walton was selected an All-American. In 1956, he was named the co-captain of Pitt's team, was a unanimous selection as a first-team All-American and was named to the Academic All-American team.

Walton was selected in the second round with the 14th overall pick of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Redskins and played with them from 1957 to 1960. In July 1961, he was involved in a three-team trade with the Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. The Giants received Walton and end Jim Podoley from the Redskins, the Redskins received Fred Dugan from the Cowboys and placekicker John Aveni, end Jerry Daniels, and defensive halfback Dave Whitsell from the Giants, and the Cowboys received placekicker Allen Green and a sixth round for the 1962 NFL Draft from the Giants that the team later used to draft George Andrie.[4] [5] Walton played for the Giants from 1961 to 1963. He was placed on injured reserve due to shoulder and knee injures during the 1964 season. He announced his retirement as an active player on June 21, 1965.[6]

Walton scored three touchdowns catches as a TE in one game. He did so twice during the 1962 season: October 28, 1962 against Washington and December 16, 1962, against Dallas. Walton's record was tied on September 25, 2014, by Larry Donnell of the New York Giants. October 28, 1962, Walton also caught teammate quarterback Y. A. Tittle's single-game record-tying seventh touchdown pass.

Coaching career[edit]


Walton began his NFL coaching career as a scout for the New York Giants (1965–1968), then transitioned to wide receivers coach (1969–1973). To gain coaching experience from George Allen he moved on to the Redskins as running backs coach (1974–1977) then offensive coordinator from 1978 to 1980. Walton moved to the New York Jets and served as offensive coordinator there for the 1981 and 1982 seasons. His work as offensive coordinator led the Jets to hand over the head-coaching position to him on February 10, 1983, when he succeeded Walt Michaels whose retirement had been announced the previous day.[7] Walton served as the head coach of the New York Jets from 1983 to 1989 and his teams achieved a 53–57–1 record. He guided the Jets into the NFL postseason twice. Walton was recruited by head coach Chuck Noll in 1990 to serve as the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He served for two years until Chuck Noll retired after the 1991 season.[8] Walton's NFL protégés include Rich Kotite, Bud Carson, Joe Theismann, Fran Tarkenton, Norm Snead, Ken O’Brien and Richard Todd.


On July 27, 1993, Walton was named the head coach at Robert Morris University of its newly formed Colonials football team. He remained in this position until the conclusion of the 2013 season.

Walton was hired in 1993 to build the program from scratch. After posting 13 wins as an independent his first two years at the helm, Walton led the Colonials into NEC football in 1996 by winning the first of five consecutive conference championships. During the five-year run, Robert Morris posted a 39-13 overall record and 26–2 mark in league play, and recorded the only undefeated season in school history with a 10–0 mark in the 2000 campaign. The Colonials won back-to-back ECAC Bowls in 1996 and 1997, and were crowned NCAA I-AA non-scholarship national champions in both 1999 and 2000.

The Colonials would go on to win a sixth NEC title in 2010 and earn the first-ever FCS playoff bid for the conference. The winningest coach in NEC history, Walton retired with 114 career victories and a 74–47 record against conference opponents during his 20-year run. He was four times as NEC Coach of the Year (1996, 1997, 1999 and 2010), and was an Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year candidate in 2010.

Walton has also helped a fledgling program send three of its brightest stars to the National Football League (NFL). Inaugural running back Tim Hall (1994–95) was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth round (183rd player overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft. Hall played two years for the Oakland Raiders in 1996–97. Former offensive lineman Hank Fraley (1996–1999), a member of the NEC's first Hall of Fame induction class in 2010, spent 10 years in the NFL from 2000 to 2010 with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cleveland Browns and the St. Louis Rams. Fraley has been Offensive Line coach for the Minnesota Vikings since 2015. Former defensive back Robb Butler played with the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Also to see time in NFL camps from Robert Morris under Walton include former wide receiver DeLonte Perkins (Green Bay Packers), former quarterback Tim Levcik (Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers), AJ Dalton (Detroit Lions).

In 2005, Robert Morris University opened Joe Walton Stadium, the new home to the RMU Colonials. Walton's contract to remain the head coach at Robert Morris ran through 2013.[9] In January 2012, RMU announced that Walton would retire at the end of the 2013 season, which would mark his 20th year as Robert Morris Head Coach, and assistant head coach and former Steelers defensive lineman John Banaszak would replace Walton upon his retirement.[10]

Personal life and honors[edit]

After returning to the Pittsburgh area in 1990 to coach for the Steelers, Walton moved back to his hometown Beaver Falls with his late wife, Ginger, who died in September 2007 after 47 years of marriage. They have two daughters, Jodi and Stacy, and one son, Joe and six grandchildren.

Walton lived in Beaver Falls with his wife Patty Sheehan Walton, whom he married December 10, 2011.

Since retiring from coaching, Walton was inducted into the RMU Athletic Hall of Fame in November 2013. Joe Theismann emceed the dinner banquet honoring Walton. He was named to the Northeast Conference 2013-14 Hall of Fame class and was the 2014 Recipient of the Bob Prince Award presented to him by Steeler Owner Dan Rooney at the Art Rooney Award Dinner in Pittsburgh in April 2014. [11] Joe Walton was inducted into the Larry Bruno Foundation's Hall of Achievement in 2012.

He died on August 15, 2021, at age 85.[12]

Head coaching record[edit]


Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
NYJ 1983 7 9 0 .438 5th in AFC East - - -
NYJ 1984 7 9 0 .438 3rd in AFC East - - -
NYJ 1985 11 5 0 .688 2nd in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to the New England Patriots in AFC Wild-card Game
NYJ 1986 10 6 0 .625 2nd in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to the Cleveland Browns in AFC Divisional Game
NYJ 1987 6 9 0 .400 5th in AFC East - - -
NYJ 1988 8 7 1 .533 4th in AFC East - - -
NYJ 1989 4 12 0 .250 5th in AFC East - - -
NYJ Total 53 57 1 .482 1 2 .333
Total 53 57 1 .482 1 2 .333


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Robert Morris Colonials (NCAA Division I-AA independent) (1994–1995)
1994 Robert Morris 7–1–1
1995 Robert Morris 6–4
Robert Morris Colonials (Northeast Conference) (1996–2013)
1996 Robert Morris 9–2 3–1 T–1st
1997 Robert Morris 8–3 4–0 1st
1998 Robert Morris 4–6 4–1 T–1st
1999 Robert Morris 8–2 7–0 1st
2000 Robert Morris 10–0 8–0 1st
2001 Robert Morris 6–3 6–1 2nd
2002 Robert Morris 3–7 2–5 T–6th
2003 Robert Morris 6–4 4–3 T–3rd
2004 Robert Morris 6–5 3–4 T–4th
2005 Robert Morris 2–8 1–6 8th
2006 Robert Morris 7–4 5–2 T–2nd
2007 Robert Morris 4–6 3–3 T–3rd
2008 Robert Morris 5–6 4–3 T–3rd
2009 Robert Morris 5–6 5–3 T–3rd
2010 Robert Morris 8–3 7–1 T–1st L NCAA Division I First Round
2011 Robert Morris 2–9 2–6 8th
2012 Robert Morris 4–7 3–5 T–6th
2013 Robert Morris 5–6 3–3 3rd
Robert Morris: 115–92–1 74–47
Total: 115–92–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ "Frank "Tiger" Walton". Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  2. ^ "Tiger Walton's Son Enrolls at Indiana". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 30, 1953. Retrieved June 27, 2021 – via
  3. ^ Gordon, Dick (September 30, 1954). "In '33 It Was Frank Walton; Now Son Joe Faces Gophers". The Minneapolis Star. Retrieved June 27, 2021 – via
  4. ^ "Giants Land Redskin Ends". The Tuscaloosa News. July 6, 1961. p. 8. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  5. ^ "Giants, Cowboys, Redskins In Deal". The Washington Observer. July 7, 1961. p. 17. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  6. ^ "Joe Walton Retires As Giants Gridman," The Associated Press (AP), Tuesday, June 22, 1965. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  7. ^ Durso, Joseph. "Walton to Call Plays as Jets' Coach," The New York Times, Friday, February 11, 1983. Retrieved November 20, 2020
  8. ^ Walton, Coach Joe. "Joe Walton's RMU Bio". Robert Morris University. Sports Information Director (Athletics).
  9. ^ Emert, Rich (September 27, 2011). "Robert Morris football coach Walton to step down after 2013 season". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  10. ^ "Steeler Banaszak will replace RMU's Walton". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  11. ^ Walton, Joe. "NEC Hall of Fame". Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  12. ^ "Longtime Robert Morris coach Joe Walton dies at 85". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. August 15, 2021. Retrieved August 15, 2021.

External links[edit]