NCAA

Herschel Walker Has Wanted 1 Question Answered for 40 Years

Football fans have all sorts of questions about Herschel Walker’s career, beginning with, “What the hell were the Minnesota Vikings thinking when they made that trade with the Dallas Cowboys?”

Well, Walker has a question of his own regarding his days at the University of Georgia. It’s a legitimate question, and it’s been bugging him for four decades now.

Herschel Walker was simply brilliant at Georgia

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As college careers go, Herchel Walker’s work at the University of Georgia in the early 1980s was nothing short of magnificent. Beginning in the fall of 1980, Walker pieced together three seasons of which any one would have qualified him as an NCAA superstar. Together, they qualified as one of the best bodies of work ever.

Walker’s three-season totals were 994 carries for 5,259 yards and 49 touchdowns, and the consistency was impressive: 1,616 yards as a freshman in 1980, 1,891 as a sophomore – by which time he was already the focus of every opposing defense — and 1,752 as a junior.

The 1980 season was particularly special for Walker and the Bulldogs. Half of the victories by coach Vince Dooley’s team came by a touchdown or less, but the Bulldogs were voted national champions after a 12-0 season.

Walker made his debut midway through the opener and bulldozed Vols safety Bill Bates at the goal line for the first Georgia touchdown to help rally the team to a 16-15 win. Midway through the season, he ran 23 times for 283 yards vs. Vanderbilt. We would run for 213 yards in a matchup against George Rogers, who would win the Heisman that season, during a 13-10 victory over South Carolina.

Despite a shoulder injury, Walker ran 36 times for 150 yards in the Sugar Bowl in beating Notre Dame, 17-10, that wrapped up the perfect season and the consensus national championship.

We sometimes forget how good he was as a pro

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Hershel Walker’s journey from college football to the NFL took a three-year detour through the USFL, where he continued his domination by twice leading the league in rushing. His career totals with the New Jersey Generals included 5,562 yards and 54 TDs on the ground.

Walker moved to the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys in 1986. Although he didn’t have eye-popping rushing totals other than 1,514 yards in 1988, Walker racked up at least 737 yards in each of his first eight seasons in the league with the Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Philadelphia Eagles.

His NFL totals for 12 seasons were 8,225 yards and 61 touchdowns on the ground to go with 512 receptions and another 21 scores through the air.

Herschel Walker doesn’t like that his teammates were slighted

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution took an extensive look back at the University of Georgia’s 1980 championship season 40 years later. Obviously, Walker was a big piece on the retrospective. As is usually the case with him, Walker was eager to share credit.

“People always say, ‘Ah, he’s so humble’ or whatever, but I had the best offensive line in college football. I’m not kidding,” Walker said. “You look at that first play (of the Tennessee game) against Bill Bates. This is the honest truth; you’ll see a hole open up that, no lie, you could drive a Mack truck through. They parted the Red Sea. I went straight up the middle, and Bill Bates happened to be right there in my sights.”

The next three years of his career were filled with toss sweeps and long jaunts to the end zone made possible by the combination of Walker’s brilliance and the offensive line’s hard work and execution. Not one of the linemen from that season earned All-America recognition. Only Tim Morrison and Nat Hudson were All-Southeastern Conference.

“That’s one thing I’ve been mad about this whole time,” Walker said. “Why did Herschel Walker become an All-American and all that and not one of my offensive linemen did. I didn’t think that was right. Still don’t. Why did I become an All-American and not one of them voted for any of my offensive linemen?”