NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -
He didn't want to believe it until his mother told him his uncle's police badge had been found in the fiery wreckage. Walker says that's when he learned it was his aunt and uncle who had perished.
"That's when I knew it was them,'' he recalled.
It's been a whirlwind since then for the tight end, who signed a four-year, $17.5 million contract with Tennessee, taking him away from his California home, and has been working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to speak out in memory of Alice and Bryan Young Sr.
According to police, the Youngs had stopped on the side of Interstate 10 just west of New Orleans when their Nissan Altima was hit from behind by a Mercedes. Both cars burst into flames, and the bodies weren't found until the fire was extinguished.
Walker said he's sad this is what it took for him to pay attention to drinking and driving. So he's trying to use his position playing in the NFL to publicize the dangers to everyone, especially as a player whose teammates in the locker room may listen more closely.
Walker has taken part in approximately 10 events already, including speaking at his high school in Pomona, Calif., the NFL's rookie symposium in June and was on hand when Tennessee's governor signed a law requiring ignition locks for convicted drunk drivers. More events are coming up in Nashville in September.
The Titans have big plans for Walker on the field.
He offers the ability to better disguise plays with fellow tight ends
Walker also is out of the shadow of former teammate Vernon Davis in San Francisco. Walker has never caught more than 29 passes in a season, and he had just 19 receptions and three touchdowns last season as the 49ers won the NFC championship.
He has been on the physically unable to perform list after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee following June's minicamp. He's hoping to be cleared and practice next week. With a career average of 11.9 yards per catch, he's eager to join the offense.
Walker may not play in a preseason game, but his goal is being ready for the season opener Sept. 8 at Pittsburgh.
"So long as I can get some practice in before I play against Pittsburgh, I feel like I'll be confident enough,'' Walker said.
NOTES: Coach Mike Munchak said Thursday that