Herschel Walker: I should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

AP

Herschel Walker accomplished a lot in his football career, but there’s one more thing he wants: A bust in Canton.

Walker told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he believes he had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, and the Hall of Fame selection committee doesn’t give him enough credit for what he accomplished in the United States Football League, before he began his NFL career.

Without a doubt in my mind, I should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Walker said. “You look at my stats without my USFL stats, and I don’t know how you can argue with that. Look at my combined yards. I’m not one to make excuses, so I’ll play by their rules and not even count the USFL stats.”

Walker’s USFL stats really were amazing. In 1985 he carried 438 times for 2,411 yards and 21 touchdowns, still the most rushing yards anyone has ever had in any season of any professional football league. (Granted, the USFL was playing 18-game seasons.) Overall Walker totaled 5,562 rushing yards and 1,484 receiving yards in his three seasons in the USFL.

And Walker is correct that if you include his USFL stats, there would be no doubt that he belongs in the Hall of Fame: Walker (who had a better NFL career than a lot of people remember) is ninth in NFL history in all-purpose yards, with 18,168, but if you add in the numbers he put up in the USFL, he’d surpass Jerry Rice for first place all-time.

Some may scoff at the idea that Walker’s USFL stats should be considered, but it is called the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not the NFL Hall of Fame, and when Walker was playing in the USFL, it’s not like he was running up big numbers in a league full of scrubs: Among the players who were in the USFL with Walker were future Hall of Famers Reggie White, Gary Zimmerman, Steve Young and Jim Kelly. Despite the presence of those great players in the league, Walker was generally recognized as the best player in the USFL.

Unfortunately, Walker’s NFL career is remembered mostly for the fact that he helped build the 1990s Cowboys by getting them a bounty of draft picks in a trade with the Vikings. But Walker believes he would have been one of the top rushers in the NFL regularly if he had played for a team that had given him the ball consistently.

“I didn’t get the opportunities to run the ball,” Walker said. “People said, ‘Herschel can’t run out of a split backfield, Herschel can’t do this.’ But you’ve got to give opportunities to athletes.”

Walker will almost certainly never get the opportunity to see his bust in Canton. But it’s hard to blame the guy for thinking his career is worthy of more respect than it has received.

116 responses to “Herschel Walker: I should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  1. 2 seasons with 1000+ rushing yards.

    T-W-O ! ! !

    … but… his combination of rushing and receiving was no joke.

  2. He’s got a point. I know that so many folks are too young to remember the USFL (I came up into football just after it folded but read on it and the stats and he was a beast) but he was a beast even at the NFL level, just not for as long because he’d already been doing it as a pro in another league. He should be in.

    As a matter of fact, I think that they should induct 1 CFL player per year into Canton. It is the PRO-football Hall of Fame, not the NFL hall of fame. Marcus Allen’s brother was a helluva player. At 1 player per year you wouldn’t be inducting any garbage Joes, just players who starred in the CFL and not the NFL. Warren Moon got his start there because he was thought not to be good enough for the NFL.

  3. Can’t say that I disagree, and it must be frustrating to feel left out in the cold. While it is usually not a great idea to extol one’s greatness, I actually find his honesty refreshing.

    The thing about Walker was that he really did excel in all phases of Special Teams and Offense. He was a GREAT kick returner and a lethal threat to run or receive out of the backfield. For many years too.

    That said, there is a backlog of players from his generation still awaiting enshrinement, which will make it tough for him to get in. Roger Craig isn’t even in the Hall yet. That may mean a long wait for Hershel.

  4. I don’t know about the HOF, and I’ve always like Herschel. But my favorite Herschel moment was a few years ago on “Pros v Joes”, and some idiot tried to tackle Herschel Walker head on…

  5. Perhaps his stats shouldn’t be included, but you cant overlook what he did PROFESSIONALLY. I would much rather see a guy like Herschel included in Canton than a guy like OJ. Convicts like OJ and LT should not be there. The hall should be about what guys did, not just on the field. But off the field as well.

  6. Stats are such a poor benchmark for the Hall of Fame. Its sad when you see HOF Voters argue that Kerry Collins might merit consideration because his stats are comparable to those of Joe Namath.

    Impact is much more important, but harder to measure. It settles the Namath Collins farce and gives clarity on the subject of Herschel Walker.

  7. You might not get into the NFL Hall of Fame, but you sure as hell will go into the Guinness Book of World Records under the worlds worst trades.

  8. The idea that it’s the “Pro Football HOF” and not the “NFL HOF” may be theoretically correct, but we all know what the reality is.

    How many CFL legends are in the HOF? Exactly.

  9. The CFL is a professional league too. Should we include those players too? Hershal was a good running back, but including the stats of every professional upstart league would diminish the Hall of Fame. I mean come on, imagine if “He Hate Me” from the XFL made it! Sheesh….

  10. Well for future players that want to be in the HOF, just don’t go jilt the NFL for an amateur competitive league if one should sprout up in the future.

    Speaking of which, the NFL really needs to get some competition so that they can improve or fold to the better competition. And no this is not a serious idea for debate, just wishful thinking.

  11. his trade and dickerson to the colts are the worst trades in history. hopefully they will be joined by harvin to seattle

  12. The hockey hall of fame gets this right. There are non-NHL players in there, because they recognize that there were dominant players from the Soviet era, etc. The Pro Football Hall of fame ought to recognize the USFL era. The great players from the USFL went to the NFL after it folded and were great there too. We’re not talking about Arena League or the CFL which are 2nd tier leagues…this was a time when there was a legitimate competitor to the NFL from a talent standpoint.

  13. First it is the American pro football hall if fame hence no cfl which is bs for Doug flutie. He should get in for his last play in the nfl in my opinion. (It was a drop kick for two look it up). That off my chest the usfl stats should count since it was a viable pro football league. One season does not make something viable sorry mr McMahon.

  14. Canton celebrates players from the NFL, not from the USFL, the CFL, the Arena league, or European futbol.

    Respect Walker’s talent and his stellar NCAA career, and am sorry his NFL career didn’t match his USFL experience. I’m also sorry terrific Colts QB Bert Jones had his career cut short by injury … the great Alabama receiver Tyrone Prothro suffered a career-ending injury in college … and Ryan Leaf squandered his considerable talent. None of them will wind up in Canton, either. It is what it is.

  15. I think he should be also as its not the NFL hall of fame.

    I remember meeting this guy at a sporting goods show at the old NY Coliseum in his USFL days. Talked to him for about half an hour. Just about nobody there knew who he was. And now the Hall Of Fame voters don’t know him either. Nice guy though.

    BIG mistake going to USFL. BIG, HUGE MISTAKE. Thank “The Donald” for conning him into that deal.

  16. Here is one to think about: hey Herschel, maybe if you had waited just one more year, and stayed in school for your senior year, you would have been the first pick in the draft by an NFL team. They would have built their team and offense around you. You would have be allowed to run whatever way you could be most effective. You would have been the 80s Earl Campbell or Barry Sanders. You wouldn’t have been sharing a backfield with Dorsett. You wouldn’t have been trade bait by a new coaching regime. It would have been all about you.

    But you decided that money was more important. You went to the USFL for the money. And I am surprised that fact hasn’t been brought up.

    I am expecting this to receive a lot of thumbs down, but it something think about.

  17. Always liked Hershel and the way he played the game. Never a showboat and always played hard.
    He was more talented than people remember and I think he does deserve consideration.

    He played on some bad teams where he was the only real weapon, yet still put up impressive numbers.

  18. Whatever happened to Pros vs. Joes? I loved seeing what even past their prime athletes did vs. regular folks.

  19. Yeah, for being involved in one of the stupidest trades ever. Another Vikings blunder. When will they stop?

  20. Statistically, he’s right- he has some rather impressive numbers. But as many players have found, it takes more than numbers to make the Hall of Fame- it’s also a beauty contest, and Walker hasn’t really done anything noteworthy since he retired other than be on the Bobsled team in the Winter Olympics many years ago. So it’s more than just numbers- it’s also “what have you done for the NFL lately?” contests, too…

  21. Although he could be correct, it is probably not the best way to go about gaining entrance. None of the voters wants to hear from the person directly how great they were and how they should be recognized.

  22. The NFL was not always played with video game rules and slot machine scoreboards. Herschel was a threat anytime he was on the field,which was special teams and all 3 downs….He was virtually always the focus of every defense he faced.

  23. I mean that year that Landry got fired? He was literally the only offensive threat on the field for Dallas. They went through about 4 QBs, they had a bunch of #3 WRs out there with Michael Irvin, who didn’t even come on until the last month of the season, and he still had 2,000 yards from scrimmage rushing and receiving.

  24. ^ correction.

    He was man enough to chose the USFL over the NFL so now he can be man enough to live with the consequences. Was the extra money worth it?

  25. Even if you don’t consider his USFL stats, his all purpose yards were amazing.

    Year Age Tm G Att Yds TD Y/A Rec Yds TD YScm RRTD Fmb
    1986 24 DAL 16 151 737 12 4.9 76 837 2 1,574 14 5
    1987* 25 DAL 12 209 891 7 4.3 60 715 1 1,606 8 4
    1988* 26 DAL 16 361 1,514 5 4.2 53 505 2 2,019 7 6
    1989 27 2TM 16 250 915 7 3.7 40 423 2 1,338 9 7
    1990 28 MIN 16 184 770 5 4.2 35 315 4 1,085 9 4
    1991 29 MIN 15 198 825 10 4.2 33 204 0 1,029 10 2
    1992 30 PHI 16 267 1,070 8 4 38 278 2 1,348 10 6
    1993 31 PHI 16 174 746 1 4.3 75 610 3 1,356 4 3
    1994 32 PHI 16 113 528 5 4.7 50 500 2 1,028 7 4
    1995 33 NYG 16 31 126 0 4.1 31 234 1 360 1 0
    1996 34 DAL 16 10 83 1 8.3 7 89 0 172 1 0
    1997 35 DAL 16 6 20 0 3.3 14 149 2 169 2 0
    Career 187 1,954 8,225 61 4.2 512 4,859 21 13,084 82 41

    And he was a pretty good kickoff returner.

    Year Age Tm Rt Yds TD Lng Y/Rt
    1989 27 2TM 13 374 1 93 28.8
    1990 28 MIN 44 966 0 64 22
    1991 29 MIN 5 83 0 21 16.6
    1992 30 PHI 3 69 0 34 23
    1993 31 PHI 11 184 0 30 16.7
    1994 32 PHI 21 581 1 94 27.7
    1995 33 NYG 41 881 0 67 21.5
    1996 34 DAL 27 779 0 89 28.9
    1997 35 DAL 50 1,167 0 49 23.3
    Career 215 5,084 2 94 23.6

    Looking at his nfl stats, he has a case.

  26. there are going to be some many players who weren’t dominant, or didn’t change the game in any way, who will be going to the HoF off of numbers. its kind of a shame. then you have the guys who go on NFL N just to get a nod, and it works.

    sadly, no ray guy, no Charles haley? because its the PRO FOOTBALL hall of fame, guys like flutie, walker, do have a case.

  27. One poster mentioned that Canton is “The Pro Football Hall of Fame.” If this is the case ( and I am not a big enough fan/historian), Then HW DOES have a case. Either way, it is a great subject for debate.

  28. Most of the commenters here are too young to even remember watching him play. He did it all, rushing, receiving and returning. One of the few guys who could beat you in all three facets, and had at least 4,500 (memorized it) yards in all three? While almost always splitting carries and not being a primary receiver?

  29. It’s called the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I never heard it referred to as the American Pro Football Hall of Fame. The existence of a Canadian Football Hall of Fame is the reason given for CFL snubs, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame makes no mention of only being able to honor American players.

    But anyway, a bigger travesty is the HOF not honoring AFL players. This is from the AFL HOF website.

    “The “Pro Football Hall of Fame” in Canton, Ohio, supposedly represents all of Professional Football. Yet, of its two hundred and thirty-plus members, only ONE was never in the NFL. That one, Buffalo’s Billy Shaw, played his entire career in the AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Yet, at his induction, he wore a yellow coat emblazoned with the NFL logo.
    .
    Great players like Tom Sestak, Lionel Taylor, Johnny Robinson, Abner Haynes, and numerous other American Football League stars have been ignored by the “Pro Football Hall of Fame”, we believe, because they played in the wrong league.”

    They should just change there name to the NFL Hall of Fame.

  30. I read this and went to the stats because I wanted to say “Nu-uh, you don’t deserve it”. And you know what? Even without his USFL numbers, the guy belongs.

    NFL career rushing yards (profootballreference.com): 8225 (good for 39th all time in the NFL)

    NFL career combined yards: 18,168 (9th all time, 140 yards behind Barry Sanders)

    NFL Touchdowns: 84 (46th all time)

    To put it in perspective, Curtis Martin had 17,430 all purpose yards and 100 Td and he is in.

    Now if you add the USFL numbers,it becomes a no brainer. Someone needs to stand up and fight for this guy. He definitely belongs.

  31. The reason he went to the USFL instead of the NFL is that at the time college players had to wait for years after high school instead of 3 that is the current rule. If the current rules had been in play back then he would have been in the NFL. It’s sad to see him not get his due

  32. @Sammy Young

    Totally disagree w/ that assessment. He’s been more visible than most retired players. The bobsled venture garnered alot of coverage and his current MMA career has put him back on the spotlight. Unless they get into broadcasting, you rarely hear about former greats.

  33. in mlb your stats don’t carry over from the minor leagues because your going against lesser talent (hint hint). maybe herschel should start a usfl hof and induct himself.

  34. Herschel Walker was my favorite Viking only because he cost the team so many draft picks that it took them years to recover. Plus the fact that he didn’t do squat in purple. Neither did a lot of other Vikings but its hard to make a case for the HOF when you never win a championship.

  35. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is owned by the NFL which is a brand that competed with the USFL…nonetheless, I just assumed he was already in there…I can’t believe he’s not

  36. You’re way worthier of the HOF instead of Bob Griese and Bart Starr. After all they only got in because of the nonsensical “teammate” argument, no joke.

    Being a good teammate doesn’t mean that you’re a great player.

    Playing great means that you’re a great player.

    Even the dictionary says a “player” is “person who plays”.

    You would get in if these blatant English avoiding writers were replaced by Greg Cosell, Bucky Brooks, Pat Kirwan, and Daniel Jeremiah.

  37. rajbais says:Nov 2, 2013 5:14 PM

    You’re way worthier of the HOF instead of Bob Griese and Bart Starr. After all they only got in because of the nonsensical “teammate” argument, no joke.

    _____________________

    You need to do a little research. This is the most ridiculous statement in years. Many believe Starr was the best QB to ever play the game. — I do.

  38. I thought he WAS in! Its funny that history is your friend posted about Martin because that was when I stopped paying even remote attention to who is or is not a member. I do remember Walker playing, and he was a better football player than most current members.

  39. wisconsinhillfolk says: Nov 2, 2013 4:53 PM

    So… you corrected the USFL part, but stuck with “chose”?

    Nice!
    …………………………………………………………………….

    I’ll pull a Jamie Fox and blame it on the alcohol. I’m just glad this wasn’t a thread with me making fun of a guy’s low wonderlic scores.

  40. I agree. He should be at least considered. But then again, I wonder why a guy like Franco Harris is in but Roger Craig is out. Makes little sense to me sometimes. And I cannot tell the story of the NFL without mentioning Herschel Walker, especially in the trade conversation.

  41. He absolutely belongs in Canton. He embodied what a Hall of Fame member should be – on of the best of his era. Take a poll of current HOF members and ask them if he belongs. Therein lies the answer.

  42. His NFL record speaks for itself. He doesn’t need to be compared to other players in the hall. And he still has his wits about him after taking all those hits for Big D when the O line couldn’t keep up with his speed and power! And I hate the Cowgirls!!!

    Loved him on the New Jersey Generals too…the USFL was a dynamite league, and didn’t compete directly with the NFL, their schedule was totally opposite of ‘The League” and I was very sad when it ceased operations. There were so many good players there who went on to great careers in the NFL.

    He belongs, period. What hash tag do we need to use to get him in?

  43. Guess he wants to include his stats at UGA too. There have to be qualifications and limitations on getting into the Pro Football HOF. Other leagues just don’t cut it.

  44. @geodude11

    Well considering it’s called the PRO football hall of fame, amateur stats are obviously not included. So that’s covered.

    People don’t realize how much talent the USFL & AFL had. Infact you can make an argument that you should put an asterick on players who PLAYED IN THE NFL during the AFL & USFL days because the talent in the NFL was diluted due to the existence of the other rival leagues.

    If the Pro Football Hall of Fame changed it’s name to the NFL Hall of Fame, no issue. But as long as they call themselves the Pro football HOF, they have to consider all professional leagues that have existed. How much weight you put on rival league stats is what should be up for debate but they have to factored in somewhat during the evaluation period.

  45. He was a beast. Never thought I’d see another like him. Then Bo came by just two years later. Herschel shoulda gone to the NFL.

  46. Heck even Bettis from Pittsburgh deserves the HOF before Walker. Bettis was not a break away runner and ended up top 5 when he retired plus a Super Bowl win. Come on Herschel you were a GREAT athlete but not HOF.

  47. At the very least he should be in for being part of one of the biggest trades in NFL history

    As far as his USFL stats – those aren’t NFL stats and it seems to me the NFL is sending a message

    Play for another league and don’t expect those stats to count for Canton

    That shouldn’t come as a surprise

  48. Put him in the HOF. His USFL stats should mean something. Even if he ran for 1000 yards per year in those three years if he went into the NFL from the start, he would have stats worthy of induction.

  49. I agree. He is borderline, but add his KR stats and he’s in. 18000+ all purpose yards, which ranks 9th all time (2nd all time when he retired). Only player in NFL history with a 90+ yard run, reception and return.

    I make the same case for Dwight Evans in baseball. His offensive stats are borderline, but add his defense to push him over the top.

    I know some jabroni will mention Brian Mitchell, who had 23000+ all purpose yards when he finished. True, but he didn’t have 2000 yards rushing and barely had 2300 yards receiving. Walker had 8225 yards rushing and 4850+ yards receiving. He did it all. More TDs would have been nice, but 84 total TDs is nothing to sneeze at. That ranks 46th all time (21st when he retired).

    Borderline, but in IMO.

  50. I was just at the Hall of Fame a couple months ago and they have a section dedicated to other non-NFL professional football leagues. Have a USFL wall. I think Walker should be in the HOF, but if not, they should change it to the NFL HOF.

  51. Deserves to be in Canton. Pro Football HOF not NFL Hall of Fame with his numbers you simply can’t tell the story of football without mentioning Hershel.

  52. @skinsrock

    The same way league’s aren’t created equal, yards aren’t created equal. While I argue that you need to factor in Herschel’s KR yards, you can’t treat special team yards like rushing or receiving yards. It gets less weight.

  53. He is a HOFer. And even more… dude is a freak of a physical specimen today. While I know he couldn’t, he looks like he could play today. GIS and see how stacked he is, ridiculous.

  54. First of all, don’t say the USFL had great players who were ignored-every one of them is in the Hall. Secondly, they constantly mentioned Warren Moon’s CFL achievements when they enshrined him. Without those, you have to put a bunch of second-tier qb’s with nice careers and zero championships in the Hall….
    Bottom line for me is, it’s become a Hall of Famous, not necessarily the best of the best, and in that light, his numbers clearly warrant consideration. If Curtis Martin is in, ya gotta consider Walker. And there’s many guys who have gotten in & will soon get in based on fame, popularity, etc. and not simply being the best in their era…

  55. And while he did “choose” the money of the USFL, the guy who Googled (instead of being old enough to actually remember what went down) failed to realize that he attempted to go back to school, but the Generals were going to have him for breach if he broke the deal to return. He wanted to go back to Georgia, and they would have probably won the national title, instead of BYU.

  56. I thought he was already in the HOF. To not be is crazy. Then again the HOF is a popularity contest and people with connections. He deserves a spot there more than some who already are.

  57. put him in the all purpose hall of fame. Oh, there isn’t one of those. Yeah, Walker and a lot of other guys think they should be in the Hall. When a player has to campaign for himself getting in, he isn’t deserving. easy rule of thumb

  58. Agree with what other posters have said. USFL stats should count toward the HOF and be part of player’s career stats. USFL was not a minor league like CFL or XFL. USFL was a great league with a lot of players who went on to great careers in the NFL, as well as several NFL coaches and GMs who cut their teeth in the USFL. It was more comparable to the 1960’s American Football League. USFL was a really good league and Herschell has a great point.

  59. One thing to consider, however: By choosing to play in the USFL, he pretty much chose to forgo that statistical part of his career. The Hall of Fame has never voted in anyone playing exclusively in a different league. Just sayin’.

  60. Get elected in the builder category Hershel. Dallas will support you.

    As for the arguments that it’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame and other leagues should be in etc., it seems to me the “World Series” doesn’t have too many teams from outside the USA playing in it. A name is just a name folks…

  61. @woodyg You’re only in the minority because likely you’re the only one.

    He wasn’t even good enough to be in the NFL Network Top 100 Greatest of all All Time List.

    Ever heard of YA Tittle?

    Ever heard of Johnny Unitas?

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