Run, Herschel, Run

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Around Bulldog circles, Kirby Smart has reached that one-name status. In other words, his last name of Smart is not needed when talking Georgia football. Say no more than Kirby. People will know who you are talking about.

There is another name that has reached higher status in Georgia football lore and that name is Herschel. Herschel Walker, the “Goal Line Stalker,” as tabbed by famed UGA tennis coach Dan Magill, is the most familiar name in Georgia football history.

I write about Herschel today because I was privileged to meet him for the first time this past Saturday. The purpose and place of the meeting would have been almost impossible to imagine just a year ago.

Anyone who followed the 2020 presidential campaign, especially on the Fox News Cable television network, would have seen and heard Herschel Walker many times.

When Herschel finished his UGA football career in 1982, he was signed to a professional football contract with the New Jersey Generals, owned by Oklahoma oil tycoon, J. Walter Duncan. Duncan owned the team for just one year and sold it to none other than Donald J. Trump. Trump became Herschel’s boss, but also one of his “deep, personal friends.”

When the state of Georgia lost both of its Republican senators, Herschel was running his poultry and food business in Dallas, but his performances before the television cameras as a political commentator were just as natural as his taking a handoff from UGA quarterback, Buck Belue, and barreling over the perfectly positioned body of Tennessee linebacker, Bill Bates.

With a US Senate seat up for grabs in the 2022 off-year election, the wheels began to turn for the “Goal Line Stalker.” The chant “Run, Herschel, Run” was coined by the late and legendary Larry Munson, but has become the simple and instinctive campaign slogan of Herschel Walker.

This past Saturday night, the Mitchell County Republican party hosted a rally in Pelham for all 2022 hopefuls, including Herschel. Since I had never met or even seen him up close, I decided to go. I figured there would be hundreds of people there (and there were), but I might get a chance to glimpse the most famous Georgia Bulldog of them all.

At the rally, someone recognized me as a pastor and asked me to give the invocation. That put me on the stage and closer to my goal. After the prayer, I saw the human and “incredible hulk” to my left. Surprisingly, there were few people around him.

I approached him and spoke. He was huge or, as The Donald would say, “Yuge!” Genuine and very polite and nice are just not good enough words to describe Herschel Walker. His arms were bigger than my thighs and he looked to be in great shape. I leaned in and asked, “Can you suit up in Jacksonville Saturday?”

Although there was still light at the end of this day, if it had been dark, his smile would have lit up the arena. I asked him, “How many times did you carry the ball against Florida in 1981?”

“Forty-seven,” he remembered.

In his extemporaneous remarks, he recalled the 1981 Championship Game in New Orleans. On the second play his shoulder was dislocated and he had to leave the game. The sidelines told him, “You’re through for this game. You’ll need surgery.”

He told the coaches, “I didn’t come here tonight to sit on the sidelines. Put the shoulder back in place.” They did and he led the team to victory as the Most Valuable Player.

He told the story to say our nation is dislocated and I didn’t come here tonight to sit on the sidelines. To which I say, “Run, Herschel, Run.”