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Today in Sports History: 3/3 – Running Back Herschel Walker’s Birthday

Today in sports history (1962), College Football Hall of Fame running back Herschel Walker was born. Walker would go on to have a successful pro career and be involved in one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history.

Herschel Walker College Career

Herschel Walker attended the University of Georgia where he started for the Bulldogs out of the gate. Walker also ran on Georgia’s track and field team during his time in college. Although Walker only stayed in college for three years, he to this day is still one of the best and most accomplished backs of all time. Over his collegiate career, Walker ran for over 5,250 yards and tacked on 53 total touchdowns.

Walker’s play didn’t go unnoticed as he earned All-American honors in each of his three seasons. Walker also won the 1982 Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. In his freshman season, Walker set the freshman record for rushing yards in a season, a record that stood until it was broken by Jonathan Taylor in 2017. He would become the first “true freshman” to ever become a first-team All-American. Walker would play a major role in Georgia’s national championship victory over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.

herschel walker trade today in sports history
Credit: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire

Professional Superstar

Herschel Walker would leave college after his junior year to play in the United States Football League (USFL). Unlike the NFL, the USFL allowed players to play after their junior season in college. Walker won the rushing title in two of his three years in the USFL and ran for over 5,500 yards and 61 touchdowns. He also added over 1,400 receiving yards for the New Jersey Generals.

The Dallas Cowboys understood that Walker was interested in playing for them and felt that the USFL wouldn’t last for much longer. As a result, the Cowboys acquired his rights by selecting Walker in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft. Walker would run for over 8,000 yards and would score 84 total touchdowns over his 12-year NFL career. Unfortunately for Walker, his involvement in a notable trade is the thing he is most remembered for in the NFL.

The Herschel Walker Trade

The Minnesota Vikings looked at Herschel Walker as the missing piece for a prospective Super Bowl run. In one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history, the Vikings gave up an absolute haul for Walker. The Cowboys received four players and a first, second and sixth-round pick. Dallas elected to not play any of the four players they received in the trade, which meant Minnesota would have to include an additional two firsts, two seconds and a third-round pick.

The picks turned into running back Emmitt Smith, safety Darren Woodson, cornerbacks Kevin Smith and Clayton Holmes, and defensive tackle Russell Maryland. These players would help the Cowboys win three Super Bowls while the Vikings still haven’t made the Super Bowl to this day. Walker would only play two seasons for the Vikings that would end before the playoffs before Walker ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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