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Walker tourney has SEC flavor

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
June 30, 2002
PHILADELPHIA The Kenyatta Walker Champions for Children Golf Tournament has a decided Southeastern Conference flair to it.
Many of the 30 or so National Football League players in attendance at Friday night's Sports Memorabilia Auction at the Silver Star Hotel &Casino Convention Center, played football in the SEC.
Ironically, two of the biggest name players in NFL quarterbacks Brett Favre and Steve McNair, were not at the function Friday. McNair was having his benefit golf tournament on the Gulf Coast on Friday. He was expected, along with Favre, to play Saturday at the Silver Star's Dancing Rabbitt Course for the Walker Tournament.
When Walker, a former Florida standout and a native of Meridian, arrived, he brought with him fellow Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive tackle Ellis Wyms. Wyms, from Indianola, played at Mississippi State.
One of the earliest players to arrive was former Ole Miss star Ken Lucas. Lucas, a Cleveland native, is now a starting cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks.
At least two of Walker's teammates from the University of Florida also showed up. One was Philadelphia Eagles' rookie Lito Sheppard. The other was Jabar Gaffney of the Houston Texans.
Sheppard, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., was glad to help out his former Gator linemen in Walker.
Josh Booty, now a back-up quarterback to Tim Couch with the Cleveland Brown, said representatives from the Walker Foundation made several calls around the league.
The subject of coaches came up and one of the biggest news during the off-season was the Washington Redskins hiring Walker and Sheppard's college coach in Steve Spurrier.
Sheppard feels his old boss will do fine.
Walker, who started the last half of the season for the Bucs at tackle, has also experienced a coaching change. Former Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden took the Tampa Bay job after Tony Dungy was let go after a 9-7 season and a first round exit from the NFC playoffs.
Gruden has the reputation to be a fiery taskmaster. Walker said that's nothing new.