Scott Ferrall has lived in Atlanta three times, and during his time there, he learned that two athletes – and only two athletes – have achieved god-like status: Dominique Wilkins and Herschel Walker.
Wilkins, dubbed the “Human Highlight Reel,” is the greatest player in Atlanta Hawks history. Walker, meanwhile, is one of the greatest players to ever pick up a pigskin. He starred at the University of Georgia in the early 1980s, winning the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award in 1982. He is the only player in college football history to finish in the top three in Heisman voting in all three of his seasons, and he was the first true freshman ever named a first-team All-American.
Ferrall, who is three years Walker’s junior, has never seen anything like him.
“Well, thank you, now you’re making me feel too good,” the 53-year-old Walker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I was okay. I was okay. You got to be honest. When I was in Athens, I had one of the best offensive lines. That’s the line that Emmitt (Smith) had with the Cowboys. I didn’t get hit in the backfield. That’s what I tell people. I never got hit in the backfield. Whenever a running back don’t get hit in the backfield, they can do great things.”
Ferrall still remembers watching the 1982 Sugar Bowl, when Dan Marino’s Pitt Panthers beat Walker’s Georgia Bulldogs, 24-20, thanks to a 33-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.
College football, Ferrall said, has never been as good as it was then.
“Well, I think they’re trying to make such a business out of it today,” Walker said. “Everything is commercials and everything is ads. I think players today are trying to be more business people than they are players.”
Speaking of business, former Texas quarterback Chris Simms caused quite a stir Thursday, saying that he received $100 handshakes during his time in Austin. Walker said he did not receive that same treatment in Athens.
“I wish I did,” he said. “Let me tell you what: I tell people I was so poor I couldn’t afford the ‘r’ in ‘poor.’ I was just po’. I couldn’t even buy that.”
Walker, however, didn’t stay that way. He played in the NFL for 15 years, accounting for 14,000+ total yards and 82 touchdowns (61 rush, 21 receiving).
He was also part of one of the most infamous trades of all time. In 1989, Walker was traded from Dallas to Minnesota in exchange for five players and six draft picks. One of those picks, in fact, was used on Smith.
“I don’t think (a trade like that will) ever happen again,” Walker said. “I think right now players are so valuable. I think back then, the Cowboys really, really needed (draft picks). They had given up their draft picks, and the Vikings, I think, didn’t really need a player – because they had the players – but they needed some type of thing within the community, and I think that was that bridge between the community and the football team. It was weird because Minnesota had all the players they needed, but they had a disconnect with the community in Minnesota. I think I was that bridge between the gap.”