Even though it has been 17 years since his last pro football game, Herschel Walker says he can still play – just not as an every-down running back.
Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 and played 15 seasons in the USFL and NFL, was in Charlotte on Thursday to speak at a luncheon hosted by the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Before the luncheon – and while he signed dozens of replica helmets, jerseys and posters to be auctioned – Walker spoke to the Observer on the state of the Carolina Panthers, the role of running backs in the NFL, how college football has changed, and other topics.
The problem you have today is you have guys who just want to play as running back, but today’s running back has to be able to run, catch and block. He’s not just a guy who can run the ball, then when it’s third down they go off the field. I try to tell all running backs today to become more versatile, rather than just “be a good running back.”
I never really think about it, to be honest with you. What will really shock you is that I really didn’t know what the Heisman Trophy was until I was nominated. I was just fortunate that I won it, and for that I’m grateful. My junior year (when he won the award), I’m not even sure I deserved it. John Elway had a great year, and so did Eric Dickerson. But I was very fortunate out of that class to win it.
Take the SEC for example – when you start off the season with eight teams (ranked) in the top 12, and the season ends with eight teams still ranked in the top 12, how can you have a four-team playoff system? I don’t think that’s right. I know it’s about the money, but if they wanted a good playoff system, they need at least eight to 10 teams in the playoff.
The reason I said that is because today’s running backs don’t play the whole game; they play here and there. I know as a third-down back, I can go in and do things. As a kick returner, I can do things. My speed is still better than a ton of the running backs in the league today. There’s not a doubt that I could play if I wanted to.