When you think of great athletes …many people forget about Herschel Walker. In college he was a sprinter and a football player, Heisman Trophy winner and challenged the NFL in court for Juniors to be allowed to play pro football before his senior year. Walker ended up starting his pro career in the rival league USFL aka the United States Football League.
Once there he made his presence felt . He won the USFL rushing title in 1983 and 1985 and in the latter year produced over 4,000 yards in total offense. 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 800 yards giving him over 2,100 yards in total offense.
Walker after the USFL folded went to the Dallas Cowboys where he established himself as a feature running back in the NFL showing that he was worth the hype.Walker became 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).
Then came THE TRADE that made the Cowboys future dynasty and set back the Minnesota Vikings…at the height of his fame with the Cowboys …the Cowboys traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for… 5 players(LB Jesse Solomon, DB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson, LB David Howard, DE Alex Stewart) and six draft picks (which led to Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson)
The trade led to all kinds of unfair comparisons as to who got the better of the trade. At the beginning it looked like the Vikings got the better of it as Walker was looked at as the missing piece to get to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys at least at the beginning bottomed out and went into full rebuilding mode and took their time and used those draft picks to put together what would win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and have sustained success while the Vikings couldn’t reach the Super Bowl in the same amount of time.
After 3 years with the Vikings, Walker plated for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants before finishing his career with the Dallas Cowboys again.
At the height of his fame Walker was mentioned in the same class like Bo Jackson who was better athlete …we will touch on that at a later time …but for today …Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …Herschel Walker.
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