Monday, July 15, 1996
Presence of Herschel Walker can only help the Cowboys
By Cathy Harasta
The Dallas Morning News
(July 15, 1996)
DALLAS - Quit snickering about the no-cut clause in Herschel Walker's new contract.
"No-cut" is Walker's middle name. The clause seems redundant, considering that a city bus has a better chance of a cunning, on-the-dime directional shift than the old/new Dallas Cowboy.
But then, Walker's running back resume never played him up as a cut artist. As a ball-carrier, he led with his head. In the uniforms of four NFL teams, one thing never changed: He ran with his head down as though an arrow emblazoned on the field kept him hypnotically on course.
Now that No. 34 is 34, he came cheap to a team whose image has suffered a cheapening in this very stinky, very "off" off-season. A prominent receiver now is reduced to representation by a lawyer on a smear campaign to discredit a topless dancer. But enough about Michael Irvin and what he has done for the perception of the pro athlete. Just look at the terrible things Walker has done.
Uh ... that'll just be a minute.
I'm still looking.
Bear with me.
In 10 NFL seasons, Walker had to have amassed a series of conduct-related incidents and prickly symptoms requiring critical attention.
There MUST be something.
Well ... Walker wasn't a very good bobsledder back in his Albertville Olympic run. You could savage him for that, except that few of Team USA's men immortalized themselves at those Games.
And didn't he fall asleep in his garage a few years back? Something about dozing off with music playing in his car.
And then there was the time he took ballet lessons. The nerve!
Plus, here's a guy who recently was released by a team with DAVE BROWN at quarterback. That tells you something.
But the reason a posse must be assembled is that Walker was a constant source of irritation; you hated to see a guy who did four-figures in daily sit-ups when he wasn't giving thanks to his Provider.
Where did the Cowboys come up with him, anyway? Herschel might spoil their image.
By now you know where I'm going with this. Walker will help the Cowboys.
They gave him a chance to ride off into that sunset that comes too soon for most running backs.
Dallas sounds like the sunset of Walker's choice. He will have a chance at a Super Bowl ring. Name me somebody more deserving of that shot than a veteran who only once has played for the winning team in a playoff game. Few entities, other than the Texas Rangers, have a shorter post-season history.
Walker seemed lately to get lost in various shuffles, having done next to nothing with New York last year. But when the Giants released him earlier this summer, an era seemed to end. The cut was not particularly big news. It made sense for the Giants.
Herschel, however, constituted a pro football time-line and a bargain for the Cowboys. As far as anybody can tell me, he avoided off-the-field trouble in travels that included stays in plenty of legendary trouble spots.
Walker gave the USFL enough credibility for the league to get a temporary leg up. He rode out the Tom Landry tenure with Dallas' first coach and made the turn into the Jimmy-Jerry experience.
Walker figured as the linchpin in what arguably was the NFL's most notorious trade. He became an NFC nomad, sometimes finding himself a bad fit, sometimes finding himself accused of being afraid of taking severe physical punishment, sometimes just about vanishing.
From Dallas, he went to Minnesota, Philadelphia and New York before completing the circle.
Naturally, he will not complete it with any form of upstaging Emmitt Smith. Walker, whose one-year contract worth $275,000 has a no-cut clause, mostly can help on third down. He'll toil on special teams. He'll be a backup and, maybe, a booster.
If somebody gets hurt, he'll be there.
And by what appear to be Cowboys' standards, he'll be square.
That will be a nice twist.
Welcome home, Herschel.
All content copyright 1996, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine