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Fan_Since_64

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#34 - Herschel Walker
« on: September 09, 2009, 07:19:55 PM »



#34
Herschel Walker


The talented but enigmatic running back Herschel Walker, who played for the Eagles from 1992 thru 1994, holds down the spot at #34 on the Greatest Eagles by the Numbers list. While for many fans his career was ultimately something of a disappointment (in spite of the yardage totals that he accumulated), it took many fascinating turns, and was colored by feats of occasional brilliance on the football field.

Herschel first became prominent during his freshman season at Georgia, when he led the Bulldogs to a national championship and became an immediate Heisman Trophy candidate. He finally won the Heisman as a junior in 1982 and was considered an odds-on favorite to duplicate Archie Griffin’s feat of winning the trophy twice. Instead, he stunned the sports world by foregoing his senior year to sign with the New Jersey Generals of the new United States Football League.

In the three seasons of the USFL’s existence, Walker led the league in rushing twice as he accumulated 5562 yards on 1143 carries (4.9 average) with 54 TDs, including an incredible 2411 yards on 438 attempts (5.5 average) with 21 TDs in 1985.

With the demise of the USFL (and his release from a personal services contract by Generals owner Donald Trump), Herschel moved to the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys had drafted him in the 5th round in ’85, his second year of eligibility by the then-current rules, in the hope that he would eventually change leagues (other teams did likewise, including the Eagles with DE Reggie White). Controversy erupted almost as soon as Walker signed a contract with the Cowboys, as long-time star running back Tony Dorsett demanded to be traded; while he eventually backed off of his demand, and the Dallas management chose to ignore it, there was a residue of dissatisfaction that eventually led to Dorsett being traded to Denver following the 1987 season.

In the meantime, Herschel displayed a typically laconic good grace. He also suffered through a difficult first season in the NFL, dogged by an ankle injury. Nevertheless, he had one performance that showed off what he was capable of when, against the Eagles late in the season, he accumulated 292 combined rushing and receiving yards, including two 84-yard TDs – one on a run, and the other on a pass reception.

Head Coach Tom Landry indicated a desire to rebuild the offense around Herschel, and his finest NFL season came in 1988, when he gained 2019 yards in total offense (1514 yards rushing, 505 receiving). But with the Cowboys in a serious state of decline, and Jimmy Johnson having replaced Landry, Walker was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for five players and seven draft choices after the fifth game of the 1989 season. While Dallas eventually benefited from the draft picks, the Vikings failed in their immediate hope to reach the Super Bowl, and Herschel became a target of controversy. Head Coach Jerry Burns made it quite clear that Walker did not fit into his system, and his time in Minnesota was both personally and professionally disappointing.

Herschel signed as a free agent with the Eagles in 1992, in spite of the initial objections of Head Coach Rich Kotite. The Walker era in Philadelphia got off to a promising start, as he gained 112 yards on 26 carries, including a 32-yard run, in a season-opening 15-13 victory over New Orleans. The following week, he gained 115 yards on 28 carries against the Cardinals in stifling heat in Tempe, AZ. After seven games, he had gained 575 yards, with three 100-yard performances. But his numbers dropped during the second half of the season, as Heath Sherman became more of a factor in the running offense, including the playoff win over the Saints. Herschel ended up with 1070 yards rushing on 267 carries (a 4.0 average) with 8 TDs, and another 278 yards on 38 pass receptions, including two TDs. But in the two playoff games following the season, he carried the ball only 11 times for 41 yards.

Herschel’s rushing numbers declined over the next two seasons, although he caught more passes out of the backfield in each, with a high of 75 in 1993. Altogether for the Eagles, he gained 2344 yards rushing on 554 attempts, for a 4.2-yard average and 14 TDs. He had a total of 5 hundred-yard games, with the 115 yards against the Cardinals in ‘92 his highest total. Through the air, Walker caught 163 passes for 1388 yards, an 8.5 average, with 7 TDs and two 100-yard games. In addition, Herschel returned 35 kickoffs for the Birds for a total of 834 yards (a 23.8 average) and a touchdown.

Even with his role diminishing by his last season in Philadelphia, in 1994 he managed to become the first player in NFL history to gain over 90 yards in each of three plays (and in three different ways) in the same season, two of which were touchdowns. He gained 93 yards on a pass from Randall Cunningham against the Giants at the Meadowlands (but didn’t score), had a team-record 91-yard run at Atlanta, and a 94-yard kickoff return at Cincinnati.

Herschel Walker entered the world of pro football amid high expectations, perhaps unrealistically high. He was an impressive athlete, at a solid 6’1” and 225 pounds, and had tremendous strength and almost breathtaking speed in the open field. But, as was pointed out many times, he was strictly a straight-ahead runner with little in the way of elusiveness or an instinctive ability to make something out of nothing on a play. Granted, he was so fast that if he got into the open field his lack of elusiveness and running instincts hardly mattered. But he was not a comfortable fit on any of the NFL teams that he played for.

In addition, there were continual rumblings about his commitment and dedication to football. He was involved with both ballet and martial arts on the side, and also took time out to be a member of the US Olympic bobsledding team. Yet, particularly with the Eagles, Herschel showed a willingness to help the team in any way possible, and always displayed a pleasant personality, never behaving like a prima donna or betraying his level of frustration or disappointment with the way that he was used - or not used - on the playing field.

Walker left the Eagles via free agency, signing with the New York Giants in 1995, where he was used primarily as a receiver out of the backfield and to return kickoffs. He went back to Dallas in ’96, where he finished his career. In the end, he gained a total of 18,168 all-purpose yards in the NFL, the fourth highest total in history at the time of his retirement (8225 rushing yards on 1954 carries for a 4.2-yard average and 61 TDs; 4859 yards on 512 pass receptions for a 9.5-yard average and 21 TDs; 5084 yards returning 215 kickoffs, a 23.6 average, with 2 touchdowns). When his USFL numbers are added on, the totals are truly staggering – not bad for a football player who never quite seemed to fit.

Herschel Walker’s career record with the Eagles:

RUSHING

Year
1992
1993
1994
G
16
16
16
Att.
267
174
113
Yds.
1070
746
528
Avg.
4.0   
4.3   
4.7   
TD
8
1
5

PASS RECEIVING

Year
1992
1993
1994
G
16
16
16
Rec.
38
75
50
Yds.
278
610
500
Avg.
7.3     
8.1   
10.0 
TD
2
3
2

KICKOFF RETURNS

Year
1992
1993
1994
G
16
16
16
Ret.
3
11
21
Yds.
69
184
581
Avg.
23.0 
16.7 
27.7 
TD
0
0
1

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Sgt PSN

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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2009, 07:27:51 PM »

when you list all of the players who wore #34, are you going to include all of the other people living in hershel's head? 
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Fan_Since_64

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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2009, 07:29:15 PM »

Other Eagles who wore #34:

Roy Lechthaler (G, 1933)
Laurence Steinbach (T, 1933)
Mike Sebastian (HB/DB, 1935)
Jay Arnold (Wingback/Blocking Back/DB, 1937-40)
Lee Roy Caffey (LB, 1963)
Earl Gros (FB, 1964-66)
Larry Watkins (RB, 1970-72)
Dave Hampton (RB, 1976)
James Betterson (RB, 1977-78)
Hubie Oliver (FB, 1981-85)
Terry Hoage (DB, 1986-90)
Kevin Turner (FB, 1995-99)
Jamie Reader (FB, 2001)
Reno Mahe (RB, 2003-07)
Eldra Buckley (RB, 2009)
« Last Edit: October 07, 2009, 07:52:15 PM by Fan_Since_64 »
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rjs246

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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2009, 07:43:15 PM »

Four years. Four farging motherfarging years. Reno Mahe. farg.
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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2009, 07:51:57 PM »

Herschel Walker's mishandling by Kotite is reason enough to hope old Rich dies screaming and on fire.
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Fan_Since_64

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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2009, 07:54:13 PM »

when you list all of the players who wore #34, are you going to include all of the other people living in hershel's head? 

 :-D

Hey, I liked Herschel. Definitely one of a kind. But a team player all the way.

Several good players at #34 - Earl Gros, Terry Hoage, and Kevin Turner were all favorites.  8)

Oh, and rjs, sorry that I was a year off initially....it was actually 5 years of Mahe.....  :P
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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2009, 09:05:08 PM »

Reno should pray to the alter of Andy every night. The only reason he stuck around so long is so he could get an NFL pension.

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Drunkmasterflex

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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2009, 03:09:45 PM »

He just signed with Strikeforce to start an MMA career.
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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2009, 03:10:42 PM »

every time he fights it'll be 8 on 1. 
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Re: #34 - Herschel Walker
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2009, 05:18:07 PM »

Dave Hampton (great with the Falcons, Eagles not so much) and Hubie Oliver!  Did not realize he played for the birds for 5 years!
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