Herschel Walker

Last updated

Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker in May 2018.jpg
Co-Chair of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition
Assumed office
May 14, 2018
Servingwith Misty May-Treanor
President Donald Trump
Joe Biden
Preceded by Lou Ferrigno
Personal details
Born (1962-03-03) March 3, 1962 (age 59)
Wrightsville, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Children Christian
Education University of Georgia (BS)

Football career
No. 34
Position: Running back
Personal information
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school: Johnson County (Wrightsville, Georgia)
College: Georgia
NFL Draft: 1985  / Round: 5 / Pick: 114
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:8,225
Rushing average:4.2
Rushing touchdowns:61
Receptions:512
Receiving yards:4,859
Receiving touchdowns:21
Player stats at NFL.com  ·  PFR

Herschel Walker (born March 3, 1962) is an American politician and retired football player, bobsledder, sprinter, and mixed martial artist. He played college football for the University of Georgia, earned consensus All-American honors three times and won the 1982 Heisman Trophy. He is considered by many to be the greatest college football player of all time, ranked No. 1 by Bleacher Report, 247sports, and Sporting News , and No. 2 by ESPN. [1] [2] [3] [4] Walker began his professional football career with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League (USFL), before joining the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). In the NFL, he also played for the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants. In 1989, Walker's name became synonymous with a trade widely considered to be the largest in league history. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

Contents

Walker currently serves as a co-chair of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, having been appointed to the position by President Donald Trump. [5] He is running for the Republican nomination in the 2022 United States Senate election in Georgia, and has been endorsed by Trump. [6]

Early life

Walker was born in Augusta, Georgia, to parents Willis and Christine Walker. He was raised in Wrightsville, Georgia. [7] He was one of seven children in his blue collar family. [8] Walker said that as a child he was overweight and struggled with stuttering. [9] [10] Walker's mother taught him not to use these problems as excuses in life. [11]

High school career

Walker attended Johnson County High School in Wrightsville, where he played football, basketball, and competed in track. He played for the Johnson County Trojans high school football team from 1976 to 1979. In his senior year, he rushed for 3,167 yards, helping the Trojans win their first state championship. [12] He was awarded the inaugural Dial Award as 1979 national high school scholar-athlete of the year.[ citation needed ]

Walker was selected as Athlete-Scholar delegate by the American Academy of Achievement in June 1980 and received the Academy's Golden Plate Award from Council member Coach Tom Landry at a ceremony in 1981. [13] [14] [15]

On July 4, 2017, during Wrightsville's annual Fourth of July celebration and parade, Trojan Way, the street where Johnson County High School resides, was officially renamed Herschel Walker Drive. [16]

Track and field

Also a standout athlete, Walker competed on the Trojans track and field team in events ranging from the 100-yard dash to the shot put. [17] He won the shot put (16.56m/54 ft 4in), 100-yard dash (9.5s), and 220-yard dash (21.5s) events at the GHSA Class A State T&F Championships. He also anchored the 4x400 team to victory, with a time of 3:24.01 minutes. [18]

Walker also competed as a sprinter at the University of Georgia, where he was a two-time All-American selection. He was a member of the SEC champion 4 × 100 m relay squad in 1981. [19] He ran the 100 meters in a PR of 10.23 seconds in 1982 and also ran 10.10 seconds wind-assisted. He improved his high school 100-yard dash time of 9.5 to 9.3 seconds. He also competed in the 55-meter dash in 1983, recording a time of 6.11 seconds. [20]

College career

After graduating from high school as the valedictorian, Walker played running back for the University of Georgia, where he was a three-time All-American (football and track) and winner of the 1982 Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. He is the only player in NCAA history to finish in the top three in Heisman voting in all three of his collegiate seasons. He is the first NCAA player who played only three years to finish in the top 10 in rushing yards, a mark later tied by Jonathan Taylor. During his freshman season in 1980, Walker set the NCAA freshman rushing record (later broken by Jonathan Taylor) and finished third in Heisman voting. Walker was the first "true freshman" to become a first-team All-American. [21]

He played a major role in helping Georgia avoid defeat that year and win the national championship with a victory over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl. [22] He won the Heisman as a junior. [23] In 1999, Walker was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and is considered one of college football's greatest players. [24]

1980 season

Walker, listed at 6 feet 2 inch, 222-pound running back and the most sought after high school football player in the nation, signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1980. [25] Mike Cavan helped provide head coach Vince Dooley with his prized recruit. [26] :73–89

The season began with sophomore Carnie Norris starting ahead of Walker at tailback as the Bulldogs faced the University of Tennessee on September 6 in Knoxville. With Tennessee gaining a 9–0 lead early in the 2nd quarter, coach Dooley told his offensive coordinator, "I'm putting Herschel in...Don't be afraid to let him carry the ball."[ citation needed ]

Tennessee held a 15–2 advantage late in the third quarter when Walker changed the momentum of the game. Late in the third quarter, Walker scored on a counter from 16 yards out, where he ran over safety and future Dallas Cowboys teammate Bill Bates near the goal line. [27] Walker scored again five minutes later on a 9-yard touchdown run as Georgia went on to win the game, 16–15. [26] :73–89

A week later, Georgia faced Texas A&M at home and Walker finished with 21 carries for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quarterback Buck Belue complemented Walker's ground game by going 6 of 13 for 147 passing yards during the contest. [26] :203 The Bulldogs had a 28–0 lead by halftime. With four minutes left in the third quarter, Walker broke off a 76-yard touchdown run. [28]

In the games that followed, Georgia raced to a 6–0 start by knocking off Clemson (20–16), TCU (34–3), Ole Miss (28–21), and Vanderbilt (41–0). Walker ran for 121 yards against Clemson and 69 more versus TCU—including a 41-yard run. He missed much of the Ole Miss game with an injury. [29] [30] In the Vandy game on October 18, Walker had 23 rushes for a career-high 283 yards, scoring on long touchdown runs of 80, 48, and 53 yards. [26] :204–07 The special teams and defense gave Georgia the upper hand in the two weekends that followed and helped the Bulldogs get past Kentucky (27–0) and South Carolina (13–10). The win in Athens, Georgia over South Carolina on November 1 featured Walker and the Gamecock's soon-to-be 1980 Heisman Trophy winner, George Rogers. Walker rushed 43 times for 219 yards, while Rogers had 168 yards on 35 carries. [26] :209 Georgia got out to a strong 10–0 lead after a 76-yard touchdown run by Walker. By the 3rd quarter, the Bulldogs were up 13-0 and held on to beat the Gamecocks 13–10.

Georgia was 8–0 and now coach Vince Dooley's Bulldogs faced their most daunting task all year. The second-ranked Bulldogs faced a 6–1 Florida Gators team in Jacksonville on November 8. Walker carried Georgia's offense, rushing 37 times for 238 yards against the Gators. [26] :114–59,210He started things off early in the 1st quarter by taking a toss sweep to the right and running 72 yards for the Dawgs first touchdown. Georgia extended its lead to 20–10 late in the 3rd quarter before Florida began to mount its comeback. The Gators scored 11 unanswered points and took the lead 21–20. With less than a minute and a half left in the 4th quarter, Georgia was 3rd-and-11 on their own 7 1/2-yard line. QB Buck Belue dropped back to pass and found WR Lindsay Scott who outran the Gator defense for a 93-yard touchdown, giving Georgia the win, 26–21. [31] The game would be affectionately referred to as the "Miracle on Duval Street". [32]

Georgia clinched the SEC Championship on November 15 by taking out Auburn on the road, 31–21. Walker did most of the work by rushing 27 times for 84 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown. Two weeks later, Walker ended the regular season with an exclamation point by scoring on touchdown runs of 1, 23, and 65 yards as Georgia defeated in-state rival Georgia Tech, 38–20. Walker rushed 25 times for 205 yards against the Ramblin' Wreck.[ citation needed ]

The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 at 11–0 as they were invited to play a traditional football power, coach Dan Devine's Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9–1–1) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La. on January 1, 1981. [26] :160–69,211–12Walker, who suffered a dislocated left shoulder very early in the game, managed to rush 36 times for 150 yards, including a longest run of 23 yards. [26] :170–90,213With the score tied 3–3, Notre Dame failed to properly field a kickoff. Two plays later, Walker dove over the top for a 1-yard touchdown run to give UGA a 10–3 lead. He took advantage of more Irish misfortune as a Notre Dame fumble set Georgia up at the Irish 22-yard line. Three plays later, Walker was in the end zone again for a 17–3 lead. Georgia held on to win, 17–10. [26] :170–90

At the season's conclusion, Walker helped his Georgia Bulldogs complete a 12–0 record as the Associated Press voted the University of Georgia No. 1 with 58½ first-place votes to Pittsburgh's 3½. Walker and his teammates were also voted No. 1 by the United Press International Poll—which listed Georgia with 36 first-place votes to Pitt's three. [26] :190,201

1981 season

The momentum of the 1980 season continued into September 1981 for the Georgia Bulldogs as Walker and company took control early in the season by scoring early and often in wins against Tennessee (44–0) and the Cal Golden Bears (27–13). Against the Volunteers, Walker rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries. [n 1] Walker pounded California by rushing 35 times for 167 yards on September 12. [33]

After hitting a dip in the season, losing 13–3 to eventual national champion Clemson, Georgia regained its focus and won out to get to 10–1 by the regular season's end. Even though Walker was able to push, shove, and get through Clemson's defense by rushing 28 times for 111 yards, it wasn't enough to overcome 9 turnovers (including 2 by Walker) [34] by the Bulldogs in the loss to the Tigers. [35] Georgia rebounded by blanking South Carolina, 24–0, on September 26 as the sophomore Walker ran for 176 yards on 36 carries. Georgia led just 3–0 at the half, and Walker opened things up for the Bulldogs in the third quarter by scoring on touchdown runs of 3 and 8 yards to put the Gamecocks away. [36]

The Bulldogs reeled off solid wins—all in October—over Ole Miss (37–7), Vanderbilt (53–21), Kentucky (21–0), and Temple (49–3). Walker rushed for a season-high 265 yards on 41 attempts and a touchdown against Ole Miss on October 10. A week later, Walker rushed 39 times for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns versus Vanderbilt. Against Temple, he scored a career-high 4 touchdowns while rushing 23 times for 112 yards.[ citation needed ]

On November 7, seventh-ranked Georgia and Walker got behind, 14–0 in Jacksonville, to the Florida Gators, but came back to win in a repeat score of last season's game, 26–21. Walker rushed a career-high 47 times for 192 yards while scoring four touchdowns. [37] The Bulldogs finished out the regular season at home against nearby rivals: the Auburn Tigers (November 14) and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (December 5). The 24–13 win over coach Pat Dye's Tigers clinched another SEC championship. Walker pounded out 165 yards on 37 rushes during the contest. [n 2] In the third quarter, Walker's 2-yard touchdown run gave the Bulldogs a commanding 24–7 lead. Against Georgia Tech, Walker finished with 36 rushes for 225 yards and 4 touchdowns in the rivalry matchup. [39] The Bulldogs got out to a 34–0 halftime lead. [n 3] Walker scored three touchdowns in the first half. He added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as Georgia cruised past the Yellow Jackets, 44–7.

Riding an 8-game winning streak, Georgia (10–1) was ranked No. 2 in the country when they faced Pittsburgh (also 10–1, ranked No. 10) in the 1982 Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs came up short in the loss, 20–24. [40] Walker finished with 25 rushes for 84 yards and led UGA in receptions with 3 catches for 53 yards. [40] [41] He made his presence felt early as he bolted 8 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter giving Georgia a 7–0 lead. After a 30-yard, Dan Marino touchdown pass lifted Pitt to a 10–7 lead in the third quarter, Walker answered, scoring from 10 yards out to give Georgia a 14–10 lead going into the 4th quarter. With Georgia clinging to a 20–17 lead late in the game, Marino found Pittsburgh's receiver John Brown for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 0:35 left in the game. [41]

1982 season

With the season opener against defending national champion Clemson looming, the Bulldogs received bad news when Walker suffered a fractured right thumb in practice on August 21, 1982. He was expected to be out of action for 3–6 weeks. [42] When the two teams met on September 6, Walker wore a bulky, padded cast on his right thumb. In this tight game, Walker was used primarily as a decoy and rushed 11 times for 20 yards. The Georgia defense made up for its injured star by shutting down Clemson, limiting the Tigers to 249 total yards of offense as the Bulldogs prevailed, 13–7. [43]

Georgia next faced a tough test in Brigham Young at home on September 9. Walker, coming back from the thumb injury, rushed 31 times for 124 yards against the Cougars. [44] BYU's Steve Young connected with Scott Collie on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter to give Brigham Young a 14–7 lead going into the final period. However, Walker rallied the Bulldogs as he led them on two scoring drives that gave Georgia the win, 17–14. [44] He scored on a 1-yard touchdown run late to tie the game. Later still, Walker converted on a huge 4th-and-1 that enabled Georgia kicker Kevin Butler to make a 44-yard field goal in the game's closing seconds. Walker's game-winning drive of 40 yards to set up Butler's kick covered three minutes in all, and was keyed by his 23-yard breakaway run. [44] [45]

After the tough win against BYU, Walker and company won out to finish the regular season. After getting past South Dakota 34–18 on September 25, Georgia rolled during the month of October. Walker's performance against the Gamecocks was modest by his standards (32 rushes, 143 yards, and 1 touchdown), but he ran hard while still wearing his cast. [46]

In October, Georgia faced Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Memphis State. The Bulldogs slipped past Mississippi St., 29–22, as Walker rushed 39 times for 215 yards and a touchdown. Next, Georgia overwhelmed Ole Miss, 33–10, as Walker rushed 24 times for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns. On October 16, Georgia got past Vanderbilt 27–13. Against the Commodores, Walker ran for 172 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries. [n 4]

Georgia finished October by knocking off Kentucky (27–14) and Florida State (34–3) to push its record to 8–0 going into the Florida game in Jacksonville. Walker maintained a heavy load, rushing 34 times against Kentucky for 152 yards. The Wildcats led 10–3 in the second quarter when Walker raced 64 yards to paydirt on a screen pass, cutting the deficit to 14–10. [n 5] Walker finished with 79 receiving yards on 3 catches. [48] In Georgia's matchup with Memphis St., Walker shattered the SEC career scoring record as his third-ranked Bulldogs swept past the Tigers by 31 points. He ran for a season-high 219 yards on 33 carries and 2 touchdowns, extending Memphis St.'s losing streak to 15 games. [49]

Georgia took control against tough opposition during the month of November. They got past Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech to complete a perfect 11–0 regular season, and were the No. 1 ranked team in the country. Walker dismantled Florida by scoring three touchdowns in a 44–0 Georgia rout. He rushed 35 times for 219 yards during this dominating win. "We were ready for this game," Walker said. "We were more fired up than Florida." [50]

Georgia faced the Auburn Tigers on November 13 at Jordan–Hare Stadium in a slugfest. Walker scored on a 20-yard touchdown run within the 4th quarter to give UGA a 19–14 lead. Georgia hung on to win and Walker finished with 31 rushes for 177 yards, including a 47-yard run, and 2 touchdowns. [51]

In the last regular-season game of Walker's career at the University of Georgia, the Yellow Jackets were no match as Georgia raced to a 38–18 win. Walker broke five tackles and sprinted 59 yards for a score in the first quarter. The Bulldogs scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter which included a 1-yard touchdown run by Walker. He finished with 27 rushes for 162 yards against the Rambling Wreck. [52] The victory pitted the No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs against the No. 2 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1983.

Walker led the way as Georgia wrapped up its third SEC Championship in as many seasons. On December 4, 1982, Walker was awarded the Heisman Trophy. He was accompanied to the ceremony by the University of Georgia's beloved English Bulldog mascot, Uga IV. [n 6]

Walker scored one last time in his UGA career as he fell into the end zone from 1 yard out with 10:37 remaining in the third quarter. That touchdown cut the Penn State lead to three at 20–17. Penn State answered 21 seconds later as quarterback Todd Blackledge completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to wideout Gregg Garrity. Penn State held on to win 27–23, and won the national championship by a unanimous vote in both the AP and UPI polls. Walker rushed 28 times for 102 yards and caught a pass for 15 yards against the Mark Robinson-led PSU defense. [53]

College statistics

RushingReceiving
YearAttYdsAvgLngTDRecYdsTD
1980 2741,6165.976157701
1981 3851,8914.9321814842
1982 3351,7525.259165891
Career9945,2595.37649262434

Professional career

United States Football League

United States Football League rules (unlike the NFL at the time) allowed athletes to turn professional after their junior seasons rather than wait for their collegiate class to graduate a year later. Further, the rules allowed him to choose where to play, allowing him to maximize his endorsement income. He stated, "I don't know if I would want to play in the NFL unless it was for the two New York teams or the Dallas Cowboys." Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals in 1983, owned by Oklahoma oil tycoon J. Walter Duncan, who after the 1983 season sold the team to Donald Trump. Walker attracted only one major promotional offer, a joint project of McDonald's and Adidas.

The USFL had initially followed the NFL and banned underclassmen. However, league officials concluded the rule would never stand up in court, and discarded it. To circumvent the league's $1.8-million salary cap, Walker signed a personal services contract with Duncan (later transferred to Trump). Similar arrangements were later made with other college stars. Although this move was challenged in court, Walker and the USFL prevailed.

Walker won the USFL rushing title in 1983 and 1985. He set the professional football record for single-season rushing yards with 2,411 yards in 1985, averaging 5.50 yards per attempt in 18 games. Over the course of his USFL career, Walker had 5,562 yards rushing in 1,143 carries, averaging 4.87 yards. In 1983, he rushed for 1,812 yards in 18 games. In his second season, his rushing yardage dropped to 1,339, but he caught passes for more than 500 yards giving him over 1,800 yards in total offense. [54]

National Football League

Dallas Cowboys (first stint)

The Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League, who were well aware of Walker's earlier interest in playing for them and suspected that the United States Football League (USFL) was not going to last, acquired Walker's NFL rights by selecting him in the fifth round (114th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft. The USFL eventually succumbed after its technically successful but financially fruitless antitrust suit against the NFL.

In 1986, he was signed by the Cowboys and moved to fullback, so he could share backfield duties with Tony Dorsett, becoming the second Heisman backfield tandem in NFL history, after George Rogers and Earl Campbell teamed with the 1984 New Orleans Saints. This move created tension, as it would limit Dorsett's playing time, and because Walker's $5 million five-year contract exceeded his $4.5 million five-year contract. Walker rushed for the game-winning touchdown with a minute to play in the 31–28 victory against the New York Giants in the season opener. In the week 15 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he had a franchise-record 292 yards of total offense, including the NFL's longest run of the year with an 84-yarder for a touchdown and an 84-yard touchdown reception. [55]

In 1987, Walker complained to Cowboys management that he was being moved around between three different positions (running back, fullback, wide receiver) and that Dorsett had more carries. He would take over as the team's main running back, playing in 12 games (11 starts), while registering 891 rushing yards, 715 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns. Dorsett played in 12 games (6 starts) and had two healthy DNP (Did Not Play), which would make him demand a trade that would send him to the Denver Broncos. [56]

Walker established himself as a premier NFL running back in 1988, becoming a one-man offense, reaching his NFL career highs of 1,514 rushing yards and 505 receiving yards, while playing seven positions: halfback, fullback, tight end, H-back, wide receiver, both in the slot and as a flanker. He became just the 10th player in NFL history to amass more than 2,000 combined rushing and receiving yards in a season. In the process he achieved two consecutive Pro Bowls (1987 and 1988).

In 1989, at the height of his NFL career, the Cowboys traded Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a total of five players (linebacker Jesse Solomon, defensive back Issiac Holt, running back Darrin Nelson, linebacker David Howard, defensive end Alex Stewart) and six future draft picks. The five players were tied to potential draft picks Minnesota would give Dallas if a player was cut (which led to Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson). This was claimed to be a turning point in the rise of the Cowboys to the NFL's top echelon. [57]

Minnesota Vikings

Nicknamed the "HWT" (Herschel Walker trade), Walker's trade to Minnesota was initially considered by many as supplying the Vikings with the "missing piece" for a Super Bowl run; however, over time, as the Cowboys' fortunes soared and the Vikings' waned, it became viewed as, perhaps, the most lopsided trade in NFL history. [58] [59] [60] From the moment he arrived in Minneapolis, "Herschel Mania" erupted. After a single 2½ hour practice where he studied only 12 offensive plays, Walker had an incredible debut against the Green Bay Packers. He produced the best rushing game by a Viking back since 1983 and the first over-100 yard rushing performance by a Viking since 1987, gaining 148 yards on 18 carries.

He received three standing ovations from the record Metrodome crowd of 62,075, producing a Vikings win after four successive losses and 14 of the prior 18 games with the Packers. However, his production thereafter declined. The problem was that the Vikings refused to make Walker the centerpiece of their offense and Walker could not use his custom-tailored running scheme that made him successful in Dallas; which was power-running between the tackles from the I-formation with a blocking fullback in front of him. The Vikings gave away the store to get him, then refused to alter their running game to accommodate him. Instead of looking at their own schemes, the team questioned his talent and commitment to football. He joined the bobsled program of the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, earning a berth in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Scout.com says, "Walker was never used properly by the coaching brain trust." [61] "Herschel the Turkey", a mock honor given out by the Star Tribune newspaper to inept Minnesota sports personalities, is named for him. [62] Walker played for the Vikings for two and a half years.

Philadelphia Eagles

After three seasons in Minnesota, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Walker in 1992 hoping he would be the final ingredient they needed to reach the Super Bowl. That year, he enjoyed his best season as a pro since 1988, rushing for 1,070 yards. In 1994 he became the first NFL player to have one-play gains of 90 or more yards rushing, receiving and kick-returning in a single season. He spent three seasons in Philadelphia, leaving after the Eagles signed free agent Ricky Watters.

New York Giants

The New York Giants signed Walker in 1995 to a three-year contract worth $4.8 million [63] as a third-down back, but soon discovered that Walker wasn't elusive enough for the role. He couldn't play fullback either, because of limited blocking skills. Walker led the Giants with 45 kick returns at 21.5 yards per return in 1995, his only season with the team.

Dallas Cowboys (second stint)

Walker finished his football career with the team that he started his NFL career with, the Cowboys. In 1996, he rejoined the team as a kickoff return specialist and third-down back. He also played fullback, but primarily as a ball-handler instead of a blocker out of I-Form and pro-sets. Walker retired at the end of the 1997 season.

Career statistics

USFL statistics

USFL career stats
New Jersey Generals
YearRushingReceivingKick returns2Pt
AttYdsAvgLngTDRecYdsAvgLngTDRetYdsAvgLngTD
1983 4121,8124.48017534899.265136923.02701
1984 2931,3394.669164052813.2505000001
1985 4382,4115.588213746712.6681000000
Career1,1435,5624.988541301,48411.468736923.02702

NFL statistics

NFL career stats
YearTeamGPRushingReceivingKick returns
AttYdsAvgLngTDRecYdsAvgLngTDRetYdsAvgLngTD
1986 DAL 161517374.984127683711.084200000
1987 DAL 122098914.36076071511.944100000
1988 DAL 163611,5144.2385535059.550200000
1989 DAL 5812463.02022226111.952100000
MIN 111696694.0475181629.02421337428.8931
1990 MIN 161847704.2585353159.05244496622.0640
1991 MIN 151988254.27110332046.132058316.6210
1992 PHI 162671,0704.0388382787.319236923.0340
1993 PHI 161747464.3351756108.14131118416.7300
1994 PHI 161135284.79155050010.05522158127.7941
1995 NYG 16311264.1360312347.59314188121.5670
1996 DAL 1610838.339178912.73402777928.9670
1997 DAL 166203.31101414910.6642501,16723.3490
Career1871,9548,2254.291615124,8599.593212155,08423.6942

Football legacy

Walker rushed for 5,562 yards in his USFL career. [64] His combined rushing numbers for the USFL and the NFL (13,787 yards) would place him 7th all-time on the NFL's career rushing list. [65] His combined all-purpose yards for the USFL and the NFL (25,283 all-purpose yards) would place him 1st All-Time on the NFL's list and 2nd in Pro Football behind Henry "Gizmo" Williams (25,571 all-purpose yards), who played in the CFL, NFL, and USFL. In 12 NFL seasons, Walker gained 8,225 rushing yards, 4,859 receiving yards, and 5,084 kickoff-return yards. [66] for 18,168 total combined net yards, ranking him second among the NFL's all-time leaders in total yardage as of his retirement; as of the start of the 2007 NFL season, ten years later, he still ranked eighth. [67] He scored 84 touchdowns: 61 rushing, 21 receiving and returned two kick-offs for touchdowns. [66] Walker is the only other player besides Derrick Mason to have 10,000+ yards from scrimmage and 5,000+ return yards (all of which were on kickoff returns).

Walker is the only player to gain 4,000 yards three different ways: rushing, receiving and kickoff returns. He is one of several players to exceed 60 touchdowns rushing and 20 touchdowns receiving. He is the only NFL player with a 90+ yard reception, 90+ yard run and a 90+ yard kickoff return in one season (1994). He is the only player to record an 84+ yard touchdown run and an 84+ yard touchdown reception in the same game (December 14, 1986). He had 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving that day.

Walker is regarded as one of the top college running backs of all time. In 1999, he was selected to Sports Illustrated's NCAA Football All-Century Team. [68] On the Fox Sports Net show Sports List, Walker was named the best college football running back of all time and was selected as the third greatest player in college football history by ESPN. [69] Georgia retired Walker's number "34".

While Walker had a successful NFL career, he never played on a championship team. The move to Minnesota was the turning point in his NFL tenure. In 2008, the trade was selected by SI.com as the worst sports trade of all time. It was the subject of an episode of ESPN Classic's The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame... . In 2003 Johnson County High School named its football field in his honor. [70] Walker was a popular and visible personality, even in his college days, as evidenced by the fact that both a thoroughbred and a standardbred race horse were named after him, the former while he was still in college. He made several appearances in the sports documentary Damn Good Dog (2004). [71] [ better source needed ]

On January 29, 2011, Walker announced that he was considering a return to the NFL. "I've told everyone that at 50 I might try football again to show people I can do that," Walker said. "I want to be the George Foreman of football, come back and do that one more time... The two teams I would come back to play for are Minnesota or Atlanta. It would probably be Atlanta because that's home for me." According to Walker, his mixed martial arts training made him, "a much better-conditioned athlete now than when I was playing football. I'm 48 and in better shape now than I was when I was in my early 20s, playing football." [72]

Sporting life outside football

Walker has participated in a variety of sports besides football, including mixed martial arts, Olympic bobsledding, track and field, taekwondo, and ballet dancing.

Olympic bobsleigh

While still an active NFL player, Walker competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, as a member of the United States' bobsleigh team. Originally selected for the four-man team, he eventually competed as the brakeman, or pusher, in the two-man competition. [73] [74] Walker and his teammate Brian Shimer placed seventh; see complete results in bobsleigh at the 1992 Winter Olympics.

Mixed martial arts career

Herschel Walker
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight220 lb (100 kg; 16 st)
Division Heavyweight
Reach74.0 in (188 cm)
Style Kickboxing, American Kickboxing, TKD, Boxing
Team American Kickboxing Academy
Rank5th-degree black belt in Taekwondo
Years active2010–2011
Mixed martial arts record
Total2
Wins2
By knockout2
Losses0
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

In November 2007, Walker appeared on the HDNet show Inside MMA as a guest. He indicated that he would take part in a mixed martial arts reality show in the near future (along with José Canseco) and that he would have an official MMA fight at the conclusion of the show. [75] In September 2009, it was announced that Walker had been signed by MMA promotion company Strikeforce to compete in their heavyweight division. [76]

He began a 12-week training camp with trainer "Crazy" Bob Cook at the AKA American Kickboxing Academy in October 2009 in San Jose, California. [77] [78] In his MMA debut on January 30, 2010, Walker defeated Greg Nagy via technical knock-out due to strikes at Strikeforce: Miami. [79] [80] According to Scott Coker, the Strikeforce CEO, Walker pledged to donate his fight purse to charity. [81] Scott Coker announced Walker would fight again on December 4, 2010, in St. Louis, Missouri. [82]

Strikeforce confirmed that Walker would face former WEC fighter Scott Carson when he made his second appearance in the Strikeforce cage. [83] Walker was forced off the Strikeforce card on December 4 due to a cut suffered in training that required seven stitches. They fought instead on January 29, 2011, and Walker defeated Carson via TKO (strikes) at 3:13 of round 1. [84]

Mixed martial arts record

Professional record breakdown
2 matches2 wins0 losses
By knockout20
By submission00
By decision00
Res.RecordOpponentMethodEventDateRoundTimeLocationNotes
Win2–0Scott CarsonTKO (punches) Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg January 29, 201113:13 San Jose, California, United States
Win1–0Greg NagyTKO (punches) Strikeforce: Miami January 30, 201032:17 Sunrise, Florida, United States

Other athletic feats

Walker has a fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do. [85]

In 1988, while a member of the Dallas Cowboys, he danced with the Fort Worth Ballet for a single performance. [86] He won back-to-back American Superstars competitions in 1987 and 1988.

Businesses

Renaissance Man Food Services

In 1999, Walker created Renaissance Man Food Services because he wanted to make good quality foods for his strict diet. Originally his producer was Sysco following a casual conversation with a Sysco Corp vice-president who asked him to provide some chicken-breading recipes from his mom. Production later shifted to Tyson Foods for 5 years until Walker built his own chicken plant. In 2008, Walker publicly claimed that the company had more than 100 employees and achieved $70 million in annual sales and was one of the largest minority-owned meat processors in the nation. [87] Walker stated in a court case that the company averaged about $1.5 million year in profit from 2008 and 2017. [88] In 2004, Renaissance Man Food Services was the nation's largest minority-owned chicken supplier. [89]

Following the start of the COVID-19 recession, Walker said that it had resulted in a 50% loss in business at RMFS. After there was no guarantee that Walker's employees would receive loan money from the Payment Protection Program, Walker offered to trim his own salary if necessary. [90] When the company applied for Paycheck Protection loan in 2020, the company reported that it had eight employees. [88]

Renaissance Drapery Manufacturing

In 2004, Walker bought into a drapery company in North Carolina that supplies curtains for hotels across the country. In 2012, Renaissance signed a contract with Choice Hotels International to be one of their approved window treatment vendors. In 2017, a contract was signed with Wyndham Hotels. In 2018, a contract was signed with Hilton as an approved vendor in the Hilton chain of hotels. [91]

H. Walker Enterprises, LLC

Walker founded H. Walker Enterprises, LLC and started his own promotions company out of Atlanta, Georgia that works with Fortune 500 companies on promotional goods. [92] Custom bedding, solar blinds and draperies are sold to the hospitality industry, with premiums and promotional products available for corporate programs through H. Walker Enterprises, LLC. [93]

AiBUY

In 2020, Walker was named as the Brand Ambassador of AiBUY, a tech company. [94]

Political activities

Walker is a Republican. In 2014, Walker appeared in a commercial paid for by the United States Chamber of Commerce supporting Jack Kingston's bid in the Republican primary election for the 2014 U.S. Senate election in Georgia. [95] In 2018, Walker endorsed Secretary of State Brian Kemp for Governor in the state's gubernatorial election. [96]

Walker supported Donald Trump in the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, [97] and spoke on Trump's behalf at the 2020 Republican National Convention. [98] In 2018, Trump appointed Walker to the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, [99] a special Government employee position; Trump reappointed him to another two year-term on December 17, 2020. [100] In 2020, Walker endorsed U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, serving as an honorary co-chair of her campaign. [101] [ better source needed ]

After Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Walker verbally supported Trump's efforts to overturn the election results. [102] Walker has spread many conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. [103] [104] He claimed that Biden "didn't get 50 million" votes, even though Biden actually received over 80 million votes. [103] Walker alleged that there was "country wide election fraud", urging Trump and "true patriots" to carry out "total cleansing". [103] He urged re-votes in the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. [103] Walker also spread a conspiracy theory about the 2021 United States Capitol attack, suggesting that it was a "well planned" distraction from election fraud, even though the event was actually orchestrated by Trump supporters. [103]

2022 United States Senate election in Georgia

In 2021, Trump encouraged Walker to run for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, although Walker lived in Texas [102] and needed to re-establish residency in Georgia. [105] In August 2021, Walker announced his run for Senate against Raphael Warnock. [105] Walker's contemplation of entering the race "froze" the Republican field, as other prospective candidates for the nomination waited on his decision. [106] [107] [108] In June 2021, Walker published a video on Twitter entitled "Georgia on my mind", where he showcased a car with a Georgia license plate, teasing that he would run. [109] Also that month, Trump said that Walker told him he was going to run for Senate. [110] Fox News reported that some Georgia Republicans were not sure how effective a candidate Walker would be, especially since his position on many issues of importance to Republican voters was unknown. [111]

Personal life

Walker married his college sweetheart, Cindy DeAngelis Grossman in 1983. They have a son named Christian. After 19 years, they divorced in 2002. [112] In filing for divorce the year before, Grossman accused Walker of "physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior"; after the divorce, she told the media that during their marriage, Walker pointed a pistol at her head and said: "I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out". [88] She also said he had used knives to threaten her. [113] In 2005, a restraining order was imposed on Walker regarding Grossman, after Grossman's sister stated in an affidavit that Walker told her "unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her [new] boyfriend in the head.” [88] As a result, a temporary gun-owning ban was also issued to Walker by a judge. [88]

Walker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Studies from the University of Georgia. [114]

Walker lived in Westlake, Texas [115] before moving to the Buckhead district of Atlanta prior to running for Senate. [116] He formerly lived in the Las Colinas area of Irving, Texas. [117]

Training and diet

Walker is known for his unorthodox training and dieting methods. Walker sleeps five hours a night and eats only one meal a day (skipping breakfast and lunch). Walker's diet is made up mostly of soup, bread, and salads. Instead of lifting weights, he has a daily regimen of 750 to 1,500 push-ups and 2,000 sit-ups. [118] He has been going through this same routine since high school. [119]

Mental health issues and advocacy

Walker has spoken publicly about his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder and has served as spokesperson for a mental health treatment program for veterans. [120] He wrote the 2008 book Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder [121] to help dispel myths about mental illness and to help others. [122]

In the book, Walker wrote that he had a dozen distinct identities, or alters. [88] According to Walker, some of his alters did many good things, but other alters of his committed extreme and violent behavior, which Walker said he mostly could not remember. [113] A competitive alter caused him to play Russian roulette in 1991, as he saw "mortality as the ultimate challenge", he wrote. [88] [113] He was officially diagnosed with the disorder in 2001, after he sought professional help for being tempted to murder another man who was late in delivering a car to Walker. [88]

Walker attributed his divorce to his behavior due to the disorder. [113] According to Walker's ex-wife, Grossman, for the first 16 years of their marriage, Walker's alters were somehow controlled, such that she had no idea that he had a disorder. [113] Grossman said that the situation greatly deteriorated once Walker was diagnosed, when he began to exhibit either "very sweet" alters or "very violent" alters who looked "evil". [113] She said that in one situation where Walker exhibited two alters, she was in bed when he held a straight razor to her throat and repeatedly stated that he would kill her. [113] Walker did not deny Grossman's account, saying that he did not remember it, as blackouts were a symptom of the disorder. [113]

The New York Times described the public response to Walker's discussion of his mental health as mixed; some praised Walker for going public, while others doubted that he had a disorder, or wanted more proof of it. [123]

Walker talks with Navy Capt. David Lane in 2012. Herschel Walker's 'proudest moment', Getting help 120809-M-OT339-036.jpg
Walker talks with Navy Capt. David Lane in 2012.

Reality television

Walker won season 3 of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off (2014), a reality TV cooking show on the Food Network. He was a contestant in the second season of the reality television show Celebrity Apprentice (2009). Although he owns a food service company, [124] he was fired during the 8th episode for failing as Project Manager on a task to create a new meal for Schwan's LiveSmart frozen food line. [125] Throughout the season, each celebrity raised money for a charity of his or her choice; Walker selected "Alternative Community Development Services."

See also

Notes

  1. A long, 47-yard touchdown run was wiped out by a clipping penalty.[ citation needed ]
  2. Georgia led Auburn 17–7 at the half as senior quarterback Buck Belue complimented Walker's power ground game by throwing for two touchdowns. [38]
  3. Seniors Belue and Scott set the tone on the game's first play by hooking up on an 80-yard pass.
  4. He got help from his teammate, safety Terry Hyde, who had 3 interceptions in the contest. [47]
  5. Georgia pulled away with two more touchdown passes. [48]
  6. Uga and Herschel wore matching tuxedos for the occasion.

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