-by Patrick Toomey
As everyone knows, Senator Raphael Warnock, a fundamentally decent man and a quality candidate, is locked in an extremely tight race with Herschel Walker in Georgia's Senate race. There is one simple argument that Team Warnock could be making that might take some of the wind out of Walker’s sails.
I saw Herschel Walker in person twice during his college career— once against each of my alma maters. I attended Notre Dame undergrad, and my Irish lost a tough one to UGA in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1981. I also saw Walker thrash my law school alma mater, Florida, in November 1982. The UF-UGA rivalry is legendary for fans’ public consumption of alcohol, and it lived up to its billing that day.
Obviously, Walker would not be taken remotely seriously as a Senate candidate in 49 states. Equally obviously, he wouldn’t be taken seriously as a candidate in Georgia were it not for the fact that he is the greatest legend in UGA football history. He’s a Georgia native, and he was the primary reason why they won a national title while going 33-3 during his time in Athens. He was the runaway Heisman Trophy winner (the sport’s highest individual honor) in his final season before he left for Trump’s USFL payday.
Current UGA head coach Kirby Smart has lifted the Dawgs to the top tier of college football, which leads to a question that should be asked of any Georgia resident who follows UGA football. Would they want to see Walker as the offensive coordinator for UGA? How about the running backs coach? How about on Smart’s staff as an analyst? Analysts are lowly-paid staff who break down game videos and perform other relatively menial tasks. Would the UGA radio network trust the program’s all-time legend to be able to provide color commentary on their broadcasts? Might UGA want to hire Walker to take care of Uga, their bulldog mascot?
The obvious answer to the first 4 questions would be an unequivocal NO. Hell, I wonder whether they’d even trust Walker to properly take care of their beloved mascot. That begs the follow-up question-- do you want someone whom you wouldn’t trust to break down video of UGA’s next opponent voting on the federal budget? Do you want him to be confirming Supreme Court nominations and cabinet appointments? Do you trust him to be able to vote on complex foreign policy matters? Do you think that he’s remotely capable of meaningfully participating in committee meetings? Exactly what Senate functions IS he capable of performing?
Admittedly, Tommy Tuberville, whom Auburn fans would never consider having back as their head football coach, was elected to the Senate in a landslide over the highly qualified Doug Jones in 2020. Rick Scott, who makes Joe Biden look amazingly articulate by comparison, was elected to the Senate AND as RSCC Chair. The bar is pretty low for that body these days. Electing Walker, however, would lower the bar to the ground.
Maybe there are many Georgia voters who would doubt Walker’s ability to take care of a dog but who will still send him to the Senate. Maybe they care that much more about football than they care about the future of Social Security, Medicare, and so many other things that affect their daily lives. Maybe things have really gone that far down the track in this country. Team Warnock openly putting this stark choice before them, however, sure as hell couldn’t hurt at this stage. It’s probably the best argument that they could make now.
To put it bluntly, Walker got the living hell beat out of him from ages 18-20, when his brain was still developing. He still holds the SEC career record for carries, and he achieved that record in 3 seasons. His 47 carries against Florida in 1981 remains the SEC record. I recall the game well— I watched it on a large screen TV (for the time) with friends in the law school student lounge at UF.
While Walker was fast, he was a punishing runner who gained a lot of his yardage running over people. UGA beat UF in that 1981 game thanks to a 17 play, 95 yard fourth quarter drive in which Walker had about 2/3 of the carries. It was a display of raw power football.
I’m not going to go to the trouble to look up Walker’s NFL records, but he continued to take a pounding then. I’m not a neurologist and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but there’s ample reason to wonder about CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) with him. Regardless of the nature of his obvious cognitive difficulties, he clearly does not belong in public office, much less in an office that important. The Warnock campaign owes it to the country to do whatever it takes to make sure that he does not attain that office.