Opinion

Walker, Texas Danger: The Best Part of Herschel Walker's Senate Run? He's Not Doing It Here.

GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker on the campaign trail in Georgia, not Texas, but GEORGIA. Got that?
GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker on the campaign trail in Georgia, not Texas, but GEORGIA. Got that? Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images
The Dallas Cowboys player who scored the last touchdown of Tom Landry’s legendary coaching career refutes evolution. “If man descended from apes,” he opines, “why are there still apes?”

The talented trade bait that Cowboys’ brain trust Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson shipped to Minnesota in exchange for three 1990s Super Bowls opposes climate-change legislation because, “Don’t we have enough trees?”

The versatile persona who danced with the Fort Worth Ballet, was an Olympic bobsledder, a professional MMA fighter and ultimately ran Hall-of-Fame Cowboys teammate Tony Dorsett off to Denver is staunchly anti-abortion. He attempts to explain away his ex-girlfriend’s tangible evidence that he paid for her abortion with a shrug, saying “I send money to lots of people. I write lots of people checks.”

The 20-plus year resident of North Texas lived in Westlake on the day he announced his political ambitions, claiming “I know the will of the people of the great state of Georgia.”

Now under national scrutiny as he bids to become one of 100 U.S. senators on Nov. 8, longtime-D/FW-resident-turned-polarizing-Georgia-Republican Herschel Walker is being fact-checked, harpooned and labeled “unfit” for his deeds in Dallas while simultaneously being blindly lauded by conservatives ahead of the midterm elections.

“I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles,” says right-wing radio host and former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association Dana Loesch. “I want control of the Senate.”

Whether it’s about his education, employment or offspring, Walker is being exposed as even more prolific at twisting the truth than he was at dodging tacklers. One of the best running backs in the history of football has deteriorated into one of the worst candidates in the history of politics.

A one-in-a-gazillion liar, trying to be a one-in-a-hundred lawmaker.

Georgia, he’s all yours.

But once upon a time, Herschel belonged to us.

Walker, running against incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock for one of Georgia’s two Senate seats, is attempting to mesmerize voters into remembering what he did on the football field 40 years ago and forgetting the verbal gaffe he likely committed 40 seconds ago.

At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds and blessed with sprinter’s speed and chiseled strength, he was one of the most dynamic college players of all time. He led the University of Georgia to the national championship as an 18-year-old freshman in 1980 and won the Heisman Trophy two years later — the first black player from the Southeastern Conference to be named player of the year. After being named a three-time All-American, he left school early to join the NFL-rival United States Football League. He starred there for the New Jersey Generals, owned by a businessman named Donald Trump.

Sensing Walker’s immense talent and the imminent demise of the USFL, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm selected him in the fifth round (114th overall) in the 1985 NFL Draft. When the USFL folded and Walker arrived in Dallas, he was rewarded with the richest contract in NFL history: five years, $5 million.

Schramm and Landry had the vision of a “Dream Duo” backfield, lining up Walker alongside co-Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett. That fantasy, however, immediately turned into a nightmare as Dorsett, an aging star who helped win Super Bowl XII in 1977, demanded a trade.

“I’m unhappy,” Dorsett said. “I don’t want to be here being second fiddle to any running back in Dallas.”

In his first game as a Cowboy in 1986 on Monday Night Football, Walker scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute. Later in the season he produced a still-standing team record of 292 total yards of offense in a victory over Philadelphia.

Dorsett was traded to the Broncos in 1988.

For the most part Walker was a good player on bad teams, never enjoying a winning record during his 81-game stint in Dallas. He made the Pro Bowl in 1987-88, and on Dec. 18, 1988, he scored on a 1-yard run at Texas Stadium that was the final touchdown coached by Landry before his 29-year career ended when Jones fired him.

A one-in-a-gazillion liar, trying to be a one-in-a-hundred lawmaker. Georgia, he’s all yours.

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His real value to the Cowboys came not as a player, but an asset.

In 1989 the team traded him to the Vikings in what is widely regarded as the most lopsided deal in NFL history. In return for one player, the Cowboys received five players and six draft picks that they ultimately parlayed into stars such as running back Emmitt Smith, safety Darren Woodson and Super Bowl wins in 1992, ’93 and ’95.

Walker eventually returned to the Cowboys as a backup for two seasons before retiring in 1997. He remains prominent in Cowboys’ history, ranking in the Top 10 in rushing yards and touchdowns.

Off the field he was quirky, bordering on eccentric. He often talked about himself in the third person during interviews — “Herschel just wants the ball more” — and boasted of a daily regimen that included only one meal (salad and bread) but also 1,500 push-ups and 2,000 sit-ups.

While playing for the Cowboys, he lived in a 10,000-square-foot mansion on Cottonwood Valley Golf Course in Las Colinas. In 2012 he moved to Westlake. (To be eligible to run for the Senate, Walker established a Georgia residency by moving to Atlanta in 2021.)

During his time after football in Dallas, his violence on the field transferred to his relationships.

In 2001 Irving police received a disturbing call from Walker’s therapist, who said he was “volatile,” armed and threatening his estranged wife. According to the police report, officers, noting that Walker had previously “talked about having a shoot-out with cops,” took cover outside his house before he peacefully surrendered.

In their 2002 divorce proceedings, Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, described violent outbursts including one incident in which he pointed a pistol at her head and threatened, “I’m going to blow your brains out.” On another occasion, according to Grossman, Walker held a straight razor to her throat while threatening to kill her.

Later in 2002, a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader complained to police that Walker was “stalking” her. The woman claimed the two had a “confrontation” a year earlier, which led to Walker making threatening phone calls and regularly following her in his car.

In 2005, a judge issued a restraining order and a gun-owning ban on Walker, after Grossman’s sister said via affidavit that he promised to “shoot my sister Cindy and her new boyfriend in the head.”

In 2012, another Texas woman, Myka Dean, told Irving police that when she tried to end her relationship with Walker he threatened to “blow my head off and then kill himself.”

In his 2008 biography Breaking Free, Walker addresses his demons of dissociative identity disorder. He claims to have 12 different personalities — “alters” — developed as compensation for being bullied as an overweight, stuttering child. Some of the alter egos, he says, cause him to enact extreme and violent behavior that he mostly can’t remember.

“Everything is in my book,” Walker told NBC news recently. “I’m not trying to promote my book … but it’s a great book. One of the best reads you can ever have.”

Breaking Free fails to mention any of the episodes involving police in North Texas.

Texas politics is accustomed to a hearty scent of crazy.

There is where, after all, Kinky Friedman — who sang in a band that recorded “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” — got 13% of the vote for governor in 2006. Where John Wiley Price has served as a Dallas County Commissioner since 1985, despite making a “call to arms” if a minority police chief wasn’t hired; engaging in multiple physical altercations with police officers, contemporaries and reporters; and being the subject of an FBI investigation (he was eventually cleared) for conspiracy, bribery, tax violations and false statements. Where Laura Miller became Dallas mayor after working for this here Dallas Observer. Where Sen. Ted Cruz charged Sesame Street’s “Big Bird” with being part of the Deep State. Where Gov. Greg Abbott criticized President Joe Biden for doing nothing to stop illegal immigrants flowing in from “South Africa.” And where in 1990 gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams said of rape: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

Plus, the idea of a sports star ascending to office has precedent.

Dallas’ Colin Allred is a congressman who played football for the Tennessee Titans. Tommy Tuberville was recently elected as an Alabama senator after coaching college football at, among other schools, Texas Tech. Former jocks Jesse Ventura (Minnesota) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (California) were governors. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a former professional wrestler turned actor, is hinting at a future presidential run.

But how do voters reconcile Walker’s past? He is endorsed, propped up and adopted like a pet by everyone from Trump and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell to reactionary Republicans who willingly disregard the 60-year-old Walker’s dishonesty.

Whichever side of the political spectrum you lean to, Walker is bonkers. Things he’s claimed — or still claims — that have been proven untrue:

He’s an FBI agent. (He owns a badge, but it’s “honorary.”)

He promoted an FDA-approved mist that killed COVID on contact. (Riiiiiight.)

He was the valedictorian of his high school class. (Nope.)

He graduated in the top 1% at Georgia. (Never even graduated.)

His food-service company had $70 million in annual sales and 600 employees. (In a lawsuit deposition, he confessed to $2 million, and eight full-time workers.)

He never paid for an abortion. (The woman who provided a personal check from Walker, a signed get-well card and an abortion receipt from 2009, in fact, rejected his urging to have another one in 2011. That boy is one of Walker’s children.)

He only has one child. (He has four, from four different women.)

Early in his campaign, Walker denounced fatherless households as a “major, major problem” in black communities and urged fathers “you can leave your wife, but don’t leave your child.” One of his sons said he has seen Walker in person only three times.

His oldest son, Christian, took to social media last month to fire back at his father.

“You're not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over six times in six months running from your violence,” he said. “How dare you lie and act as though you’re some ‘moral, Christian, upright man’. You’ve lived a life of destroying other people’s lives. … Every family member of Herschel Walker asked him not to run for office, because we all knew his past. He decided to give us the middle finger and air out all his dirty laundry in public, while simultaneously lying about it.”

Responded Walker, “I love my son. No matter what.”

Some may so cherish Walker’s time with the Cowboys and the “R” by his name that the gory details are simply irrelevant.

But it’s more than his history of domestic violence and struggle with the truth. It’s his, at times, comical incoherence when addressing nuanced issues facing supposedly sophisticated U.S. senators.

Like …

School shootings: “Cain killed Abel. You know, and that’s a problem that we have. And I say what we need to do is look into how we can stop those things.”

Gun control: “What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff.”

Environmental programs: “Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we got to clean that back up.”

Walker is a fascinating fraud, so preposterous he’s impossible to parody. Even Saturday Night Live can't make him look any more ridiculous.

What’s not funny? He just might win.

Backed by Trump, Walker refused to debate his five challengers in Georgia’s Republican primary and still got 68% of the vote. In the race that could very well dictate which party controls the Senate, recent polls have him neck-and-neck with Warnock.

Because of the star on his helmet, Walker might soon have “Senator” on his nameplate.

Despite admitting to playing “Russian roulette.” Despite being wholly unfit for office. Despite being closer to “President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Camacho” in Idiocracy than a senator in Washington, D.C.

Asked to name one positive about Biden’s presidency, Walker responded, “He eat (sic) a lot of ice cream.”

Whether influenced by “Hero,” “Judge,” “Consoler,” “Enforcer” or any other of his supposed unique personalities, it turns out that Walker doesn’t always lie. “I’m just a country boy,” he says. “I’m not that smart.”

The only good thing about Walker running for Senate in Georgia? He’s not doing it in Texas.
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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt

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