This post was originally posted at The New Democrat
Imagine being a defender in football and having to try to tackle a man whose 6’1 225 pounds of muscle, probably bench presses four hundred pounds, with track speed probably runs like a 4.3. Because that’s what the challenge was in trying to stop Herschel Walker. A running back no matter what level he ever played at he was always one play away from scoring no matter what part of the field he was on. Because he either broke a tackle from someone who would’ve tackled him if he’s a good tackler, or he would just hit a hole with raw speed.
Try to chase Herschel down would be like trying to chase down a horse on foot. Now imagine if Herschel didn’t play in the United States Football League for three seasons and went straight to the NFL. Imagine if Herschel didn’t start his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys when they were in decline in 1986. Imagine if Herschel was drafted in the 1983 NFL Draft by not only someone who wanted him, but could use him. And build their offense around him or at least make him their go to RB and they were a good team.
What I’m getting at is that unfortunately Herschel Walker’s career a lot of it is about imagination. Of what would’ve been or what could’ve happen because here is arguably the most talented running back of all-time. And a case could make that he’s the best running back of all-time. But Herschel will never be in the Hall of Fame. The USFL was not a good move on his part at least as it turns out.
And when Herschel finally get’s to the NFL he’s playing for the Dallas Cowboys who were 7-9 in Herschel’s rookie season in 1986. And playing behind Tony Dorsett who was one of the best running backs in the NFL at that point. And by the time Herschel becomes the main RB in Dallas in 1988, the Cowboys are 3-13 the worst team in the NFL. And they weren’t very good in 1987 either and Herschel being the only solid weapon on offense that the Cowboys had with QB Danny White in his last season in the NFL. And opposing defenses knew this and Herschel take a whipping while he was in Dallas.
In 1989 Cowboys new head coach/general manager Jimmy Johnson trades his only Pro Bowler and great player on the Cowboys team to Minnesota. And plays for a Vikings team that was also in decline as well and struggling just to make the NFC Playoffs. And ends up getting traded to Philadelphia and playing for an Eagles team that wasn’t bad, but it was Randall Cunningham’s team. And Herschel was there to give the Eagles a threat in the running game.
But this Eagles offense wasn’t the offense for Herschel either. So Herschel Walker the greatest running back of all-time coming out of college in 1983 ends up being a journeyman player in pro football. Because he was never able to find that right team for him that was a good team, but also a team that would utilize all of Herschel’s talents and get the best out of him.
Herschel Walker the greatest college running back of all-time and the physical and mental abilities to be a great NFL running back. And be in the Hall of Fame and challenge Jim Brown as the greatest running back of all-time. This is the career that Herschel would’ve had, but that never happened because in the NFL he was never with a team that was headed in the right direction. Either an established winner or moving up to becoming one. And as a result became a journeyman player in the NFL.