March 15, 2011

MVP Profile: Herschel Walker, 1985

Running Back, New Jersey Generals

Age: 23 (Mar. 3)
3rd season in pro football & with Generals
College: Georgia
Height: 6’1” Weight: 223

After winning the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1982, Walker stunned the football world by signing with the Generals of the new USFL for the ’83 spring season. He led the league in rushing (1812 yards) in 1983 and, playing with a sore shoulder in ’84, added another 1339 yards. Was a consensus All-League first-team selection in ’83.

1985 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 18 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 438 [1]
Most attempts, game - 36 (for 142 yds.) at Denver 5/19
Yards – 2411 [1]
Most yards, game – 233 yards (on 34 carries) vs. Houston 4/7
Average gain – 5.5 [2]
TDs – 21 [1]
200-yard rushing games - 3
100-yard rushing games - 14

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 37
Most receptions, game – 5 (for 35 yds.) vs. Portland 4/14
Yards – 467
Most yards, game - 106 (on 3 catches) at Denver 5/19
Average gain – 12.6
TDs – 1
100-yard receiving games - 1

TDs – 22 [1]
Points – 132 [1]

Postseason: 1 G (USFL Quarterfinal playoff vs. Baltimore)
Rushing attempts – 25
Rushing yards – 66
Average gain rushing – 2.6
Rushing TDs – 1

Pass receptions – 4
Pass receiving yards - 44
Average yards per reception – 11.0
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
USFL Player of the Year: League, Sporting News, College & Pro Football Newsweekly
1st team All-USFL: League, Sporting News, College & Pro Football Newsweekly

Generals went 11-7 to place second in USFL Eastern Conference and gain wild card spot in postseason. Lost Quarterfinal playoff game to Baltimore Stars (20-17).

Following the demise of the USFL, Walker joined the NFL Dallas Cowboys, who had drafted him in the fifth round in 1985 (his first year eligible under the rules then in effect). Splitting time with veteran RB Tony Dorsett, he gained 1574 yards from scrimmage in ’86 and led the league with 1606 yards in ’87. Walker was selected to the Pro Bowl following the 1987 and ’88 seasons – his 1514 rushing yards in ’88 were his NFL career high. Traded to Minnesota during the 1989 season, although still productive, he was unable to fit comfortably into the offense. Moving on to Philadelphia in 1992, he had his only other thousand-yard rushing season in the NFL (1070), and while an effective runner-receiver-kick returner, found himself sharing time in the offensive backfield. Following a 1995 season in which he was primarily used as a kick returner by the New York Giants, Walker returned to the Cowboys for his last two pro seasons.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]

1 comment:

  1. Herschel Walker had the ability to become the greatest running back of all time, but had the misfortune to be stuck on declining teams that didn't quite know how to utilize him to the fullest. It seems that his greatest value was as a bargaining chip to be traded for draft choices (which directly resulted in the resurgence of the Cowboys in the early 90's) rather than as an integral part of a team's offense.