Herschel Walker is one of the greatest running backs of all time. He won the Heisman Trophy at Georgia and was a two-time NFL Pro Bowler. And yet, his name is synonymous with a blockbuster trade gone awry.
Walker, who played for the Cowboys in the mid-to-late 1980s, was traded to Minnesota in October 1989 for linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, cornerback Issiac Holt, running back Darrin Nelson, defensive end Alex Stewart and a bevy of draft picks, including three first-rounders. The picks were used on Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, and safety Darren Woodson, the Cowboys’ all-time leading tackler, among others.
As great as Walker was, it’s got to sting a little bit that he’s associated in a negative way with a bad trade, right?
“No, not at all,” Walker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “When you look at what I did in Minnesota, what they gave me the opportunity of doing, I averaged the same amount that I was averaging when I was with the Cowboys. And yet, I got less carries and I played a lot less in Minnesota than I did when I was with the Cowboys. It was like they reduced my playing time some, so it’s not my fault. I reckon it’s not anyone’s fault. If they don’t let you play, you can’t do too much. But right after I (left) Minnesota and (went) to Philly, my first year I have 1,000 yards rushing. It didn’t bother me that much. Most of the time, players don’t have nothing to do with the trade. That was my thing. The trade had nothing do with me and there was nothing I could do with the trade, so I try not to think about it that much.”
After rushing 361 times in 1988 – his last full season with the Cowboys – Walker rushed just 184 times and 198 times in Minnesota in 1990 and 1991, respectively. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry but didn’t sniff 1,000 rushing yards either season.
Then he signed with the Eagles in 1992 and rushed 267 times for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns.
In the end, the Vikings acquired Walker to win a Super Bowl, but it seems they didn’t utilize him correctly.
“Oh no, they really didn’t,” Walker said. “When you look at the amount of carries I had during that time and the things that I did then compared to what I was doing before, I think you can see my carries went way down. It was really a little bit different.”