Herschel Walker, a 52-year-old former star running back, is not planning a comeback in the NFL. He will, however, get NFL fans talking after a bombastic claim that he is confident he could still play in the league.
USA Today's Jarrett Bell (h/t Larry Brown Sports) spoke with Walker to get his general thoughts on Donald Trump possibly owning the Buffalo Bills. Along the way, Walker offered his assessment of his own vitality, stating in no uncertain terms that he could still carry the rock:
I can play in the NFL today. I couldn’t take every snap. But running backs nowadays don’t play every down. Now they send in the choir section.
Physically, I can still do it.
Now, just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you will. That sentiment seems to describe Walker, who is just a couple of years removed from his last MMA fight—he beat Scott Carson back in January 2011—pushing his brief career record to a wholly successful 2-0.
Bell is careful to note that Walker, despite his assertions, isn't about to jump back into the football fray, as he's finding more than enough to keep him busy amid his various business ventures. But this is a man who is always pushing himself, so there is a small part of us that is forced to consider whether Walker really could maneuver through defenses a fraction of his age.
Larry Brown Sports' Steve DelVecchio reminds us that it wasn't too long ago that Walker actually did eye a comeback of sorts.
While the ESPN link is no longer functioning, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio managed to save the quote from Walker, who in 2011 was more assertive in his claims to Franklin McNeill:
I’ve told everyone that at 50 I might try football again to show people I can do that. I want to be the George Foreman of football, come back and do that one more time.
I’m a much better-conditioned athlete now than when I was playing football. I’m 48 and in better shape now than I was when I was in my early 20s, playing football.
Again, these were the claims of a 48-year-old who was still working hard to make a mark, albeit a brief one, on the MMA landscape.
A few years removed, however, it's clear that he still believes all of the hard work he puts in in the gym could pay off to the tune of NFL success.
Bell reminds us that this is the same guy who once pumped out "1,500 push-ups and 3,500 sit-ups per day." Walker is certainly in tremendous shape, but we just aren't as confident as he is about his ability to suit up in the NFL once again.
CBSSports.com's John Breech does offer a path for Walker, however unlikely it may seem:
If Walker were to return to the NFL at 52, his best bet would probably be a Donald Trump-owned Buffalo Bills team. Walker started his pro football career with the USFL's New Jersey Generals -- a team owned by Trump -- and Walker thinks Trump would make a good owner for the Bills.
Although we have to side with DelVecchio, who isn't confident Walker would last:
We admire Walker’s confidence and his desire to bring some media attention to himself, but an athlete over the age of 50 simply wouldn’t last in the NFL. It just doesn’t make sense physically.
That's not to say it's impossible, because, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chip Towers notes, this is an athlete who has always pushed to stay in shape, even delving into new and inventive methods.
Unfortunately, this is a story that only yields debate and wonderful what-if scenarios because Walker is inundated with business matters and there isn't an NFL team we can imagine taking a chance on a player at 52.
A Walker comeback would make for quite captivating entertainment. Seeing as how that's not going to happen, though, we will instead just enjoy the fun that comes with imagining one.
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