Why isn't he in the Hall of Fame? Good, honest question really. Andrew Miller at BullDawg Illustrated says he should be. And he points us to two interesting articles by Brad Oremland at Sports Central. You should read both, starting with this one that states the case overall for Walker getting a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Then read Oremland's follow up that specifically compares Walker to Jerome Bettis, who has actually come much closer to getting elected.
If you're like me you'll go into those two readings thinking Duh!. I mean, every Dawg fan appreciates everything Herschel has done for professional football just as much as the college game. But Oremland really breaks down the reasoning for keeping him out as completely flawed; from being the poster child on the wrong end of the BIG trade to getting shorted four games by the players strike during what was arguably Herschel's best season in 1987.
But as I read the articles, I began to realize that like so many other things in life Herschel Walker is too big for Canton, Ohio. By early 1983 he was too big for amateur football so he left Athens to conquer the next mountain. By the mid-80s he was making a mockery of the defensive players in the USFL and the next challenge was the NFL. He's taken on every belt Tae-Kwon-Do will allow. He made the US Olympic bobsled team and nearly the Olympic relay team in track. He's a successful business man. He wrote a very challenging and difficult autobiography. And now he's proving he's not just eye candy to an MMA fight card.
Herschel Walker's all time yardage stats rank 8th in the NFL (when he retired he was 2nd). He adds another 7,046 yards from the New Jersey Generals (rushing and receiving). As Oremland points out, these were during the years when Walker would've been at his prime. His 2,411 yards rushing in 1985 for the Generals stands alone among professional ball carriers; Eric Dickerson is second, 2,105 for the Rams in 1985.
I've never had the privilege of meeting Herschel Walker, but I've read everything I could get my hands on. He's never struck me as a person who rested on his laurels or wanted to be pegged into one role, be that in life in general or more specifically as an athlete. My favorite example of this came late in his career in 1995. He had a 90+ yard run, a 90+ yard reception and a 90+ yard kickoff return...in the same season! He was 33 years old. He couldn't be placed into one category back then, and he can't be put in one single Hall of Fame today.
Herchel's too big for Canton. Dawg fans understand that. He outgrew Sanford.
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Bonus Goal Line Stalker links:
- One of the greatest college football writings ever, Joe Posnanski's The Legend of Herschel Walker
- If you don't have time to read it, check out Derek's podcast devoted to it at Dawgcast.com (Archives, April 2009). He'll read it to you.
- His book Breaking Free is a spectacular read for anyone who's followed his career and a must for Dawg fans.
- Herschel's career stats, from college to his last season in the NFL