Herschel Walker made an indelible mark on University of Georgia (UGA) football☂ history as a record-setting running back from 1980 to 1982. He led UGA to a national championship in 1980 and won the Heisman Trophy in 1982. Many observers of the game consider Walker to be one of the best players in college history. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2022 Walker unsuccessfully sought a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Herschel Junior Walker was born in Wrightsville on March 3, 1962, to Christine and Willis Walker. In 1980 UGA football coach Vince Dooley🅷 signed Walker to a scholarship. As a freshman at UGA Walker led the team to an undefeated regular season and a Sugar Bowl victory over the University of Notre Dame to win the national championship. He drew consensus all-American honors and was third in the Heisman Trophy voting that season, setting records with 1,616 total yards, a rushing average of 146.9 yards, and fifteen touchdowns.Walker was a consensus all-American in each of the three seasons he played at UGA, setting eleven National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) records, sixteen Southeastern Conference (SEC) records, and forty-one UGA records, including the most rushing yards in a game (283 against Vanderbilt University in 1980). He ran for more than 100 yards in eleven games as a sophomore. At the end of his UGA career, Walker’s total of 5,259 yards gained was the most ever by a college running back in a three-year career and made him the third leading rusher in NCAA history. His three seasons for UGA were among the school’s most successful in its long football history. UGA won three straight conference titles and posted a record of thirty-three wins and only three losses. Walker left UGA after his junior season to play for the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League (USFL). During his first season with the Generals in 1983, he set a professional single-season rushing record with 2,411 yards and was named the USFL’s Most Valuable Player.
ღWhen the USFL folded in 1986, Walker signed with the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He led the NFL in total yards from scrimmage in 1987 with 1,606 and led the league in rushing in 1988. The Cowboys traded Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in 1989, and he later played for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. He returned to the Cowboys shortly before retiring in 1997. During his NFL career, Walker played in two Pro Bowls, and at the time of his retirement he trailed only Walter Payton in all-purpose yards gained in the NFL. Additionally, he led all players in that category in professional football history, counting his years in the USFL.Though best known for his achievements on the gridiron, Walker has enjoyed notable success in other competitions. In college, he joined UGA’s track and field team, twice drawing all-American honors; he competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics as a member of the United States bobsledding team; and in 2007, at the age of forty-seven, he took up mixed martial arts, winning two heavyweight bouts. In 2018 he was named co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.
In 2008 Walker published his autobiography, Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder🦂, which chronicles his early life and reveals his struggles with dissociative identity disorder. Walker was diagnosed with the condition, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, in 2002.Though it received praise in some quarters for its candid discussion of mental illness, the book’s many disclosures emerged as points of concern when Walker announced his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2021. Subsequent reporting would later raise additional questions about Walker’s business practices and personal life. Nevertheless, he beat out five other candidates in the Republican primary to secure the nomination. The November 2022 general election went into a December runoff when neither Walker nor incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock received at least 50 percent of the vote. Senator Warnock won the runoff election, giving Democrats a 51-49 Senate majority following the 2022 midterms.