Happy Birthday, Herschel Walker: Here’s why you belong in the Hall of Fame

Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm ET

NFL

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Does Herschel Walker belong in the Hall of Fame?Yes, it’s true.  Herschel Walker was born this the 3rd day of March back in 1962.  Nearly half a century later, let’s see, he’s represented the United States in the Winter Olympics; danced professional ballet; developed a successful food services enterprise; and, amongst other things,  just recently won his first MMA match.  He also dabbled in something called “Football” a bit along the way, and that’s actually what we’re focusing on today.  More specifically, why Mr. Walker’s bust should grace the hallowed halls in Canton at some point.

Yes, yes, I know.  It immediately sounds like a preposterous, if not borderline insane, suggestion, but that’s why I’m here to offer this hopefully compelling argument on Herschel’s behalf.

It might actually be more of a comparative evaluation, really.  See, I figured if I could demonstrate that Herschel was as good, better or even just comparable to an already enshrined peer that nearly no one would question is justifiably in the Hall, then one must logically accept that Walker is at least worthy of such consideration.  That said, let’s take a look at Walker’s professional career next to Tony Dorsett’s.  The results may surprise you…

Now, as a pure back (rushing from behind the line of scrimmage), Dorsett may have the edge. Of course, a careful examination of the two as complete players leads one to believe that Herschel arguably, though quietly, had a more productive NFL career.

Tony Dorsett vs. Herschel WalkerFirst, Herschel amassed 18,168 total yards in the NFL from ’86-’97 (8,225 rushing, 4859 receiving, and 5,084 on kickoff returns), good for 8th all-time (Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton, Emmit Smith, Tim Brown, Marshall Faulk and Barry Sanders are ahead of him). Walker also managed 84 career TD’s.

Dorsett, on the other hand, compiled 16,293 total yards from ’77-’88 (same amount of seasons) (12,739 rushing and 3,554 receiving), while scoring only 6 more TD’s than Walker. Notice also that Tony carried the ball 982 more times than Herschel, averaging 4.3 yards per carry to Walker’s 4.2.

Despite the similarities here, history obviously hasn’t been as kind to Herschel’s NFL career, though there’s certainly a plausible explanation for this.  Walker’s NFL legacy, right or wrong, is etched as deeply, if not more, by the landmark Cowboys-Vikings trade than any of his on-field exploits, and, deserved or not, being the inescapable butt of that joke, amongst other things, has arguably tarnished his career’s luster somewhat.

If you include Walker's USFL career, you arguably have the greatest running back in professional football history.Still, I think most too easily forget just how much Walker accomplished in the NFL, and that’s not even considering the three “wasted” years he had in the doomed USFL.  If you take Walker’s USFL numbers, you arguably have the greatest running back in professional football history, let alone one better than Dorsett (7,115 more combined yards: 5,592 rushing, 1,484 receiving, and 69 on kickoff returns).

Including Walker’s work with Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals also makes him pro football’s all-time all purpose yardage leader with 25,283 yards (Rice is the current leader with 23,546). Even without the USFL numbers, though, as noted above, Herschel is still in the top 8.  Throw in the additional 61 TD’s Herschel amassed during his USFL tenure, and there’s little room to argue he’s worthy of a spot in the Hall.

Of course, to be fair, many critics like to point out, and rightly so, that Walker’s astronomical USFL stats were tallied against inferior competition. In response, assuming they’re even needed here, I’ll offer to cut Herschel’s USFL stats in half, which is probably taking too much away from him, and yet aren’t we still looking at a Hall of Fame career here?

All that said, the main point is that I think Herschel deserves a bit more recognition in discussions about potential dark horse candidates for Canton.  Unfortunately, I certainly won’t be surprised if he never even sniffs the Hall. Again, though: Notwithstanding his USFL numbers, I think he’s by all means worthy of a spot given some of his peers that are already in (Dorsett, et al.). If one is generous enough to consider Walker’s USFL accolades,  it’s a no-brainer (even giving him 50% credit).

After all, lets not forget that it’s called the “Professional” Football Hall of Fame, right?

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9 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Herschel Walker: Here’s why you belong in the Hall of Fame”

  1. SickFakemrejr8234 Says:

    RT @YieldToFrump: Happy Birthday, Herschel Walker. Here's why you belong in the Hall… http://bit.ly/bxTBwV

  2. Carroll Hightower Says:

    RT @YieldToFrump: Happy Birthday, Herschel Walker. Here's why you belong in the Hall… http://bit.ly/bxTBwV

  3. DawgCast Says:

    Yeah, I know Im a day late posting this but I got it yesterday and just now read it. worth the time- Happy Bday #34! http://bit.ly/9jUWOr

  4. Kdog Says:

    I have been making your argument for years.I hope you have more luck getting others to listen.Including his USFL stats is a difficult endeavor,as I have been doing same with Warren Moon/CFL.I believe had Moon played his entire career in the NFL,he would own the record book for quarterbacks.I believe Walker would be at least close to that for running backs.Being #8 on that list is nothing to sneeze at considering name #’s 1 thru 7…pretty impressive company.Also,he was severely deprived of carries and opportunities by Minnesota.They gave away the farm,along with all the cattle,to get him and never utilized him…?Never understood that.That had a negative impact on his stats to say the least.

  5. coloneltom Says:

    Part of the difference is winning, when Dorsett played for Dallas they were SB contenders and winners, when Walker played they were awful. Second, the receiving yards which give Walker stats comparable with Dorsett were due to the changes in football. When Dorsett played it was a running league, when Walker played it was becoming a passing league. Dorsett would have been a much bigger star in the NFL of today. Was Walker a very good player, yes, but he failed to be on any very good teams which fairly or unfairly make it hard for people to consider him HOF worthy. Overall, does anyone think Walker’s on field performance to any team was enough to makie them winners? If the answer is no (and looking at their records how could it be anything else) then how is he a HOFer? O.J. Simpson made Buffalo a winner and Emmit Smith made Dallas a winner and Herschal Walker made who a winner?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Tony was a greater RB, but Walker deserves induction. The all time all purpose pro football yardage leader should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Him ranking 8th in NFL yards among those greats should cement it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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