NFC South: Herschel Walker

Around the NFC South

May, 16, 2012
Time for a look at the top Wednesday morning headlines from around the NFC South.
  • I don’t know if it will change anything, but New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith and former Saints Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove will have appeals of their suspensions for their roles in the bounty program heard by an arbitrator Wednesday. Even if nothing comes of this, this isn’t the end of the line. The NFL Players Association has filed a separate grievance with the league’s system arbitrator. They also have filed an appeal with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who issued the punishments in the first place.
  • Although the Saints have a veteran coaching staff and roster, Jeff Duncan writes they already miss suspended coach Sean Payton. I think the Saints potentially can weather this one, but it’s going to be a process and some assistant coaches and some of the leadership among the players will have to step forward to help compensate for some of the intangibles that left the building with Payton.
  • Here’s a column that takes issue with the prospect of taxpayer money being used to potentially finance a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. I totally understand the argument that the people of Georgia have other needs and that Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank already makes plenty of money. But, in today’s NFL, you need state-of-the-art stadiums to stay competitive. It may not be ideal, but the norm is for taxpayers to pick up at least some of the tab for a new stadium.
  • Speaking of sports and the economy, let’s go a little outside the box. I don’t do much reading in the world of finance, but a former co-worker passed along this column by a financial planner, who writes that recent events have caused him to lose his life-long passion for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFL in general. The author concludes that professional sports are a waste of time, money and energy. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but he brings up some points worth pondering.
  • Former Carolina Panthers running back Stephen Davis was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. Davis earned the honor exclusively for his spectacular high school career, when he was nicknamed “Little Herschel’’ after Herschel Walker. But I’ll always remember Davis for his role in the Panthers’ 2003 season. That year, Davis arrived in Carolina and instantly became the focus of the offense. Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad each made some big plays along the way, but Davis was the glue to the Carolina offense as the Panthers went to their only Super Bowl.
  • Brian Allee-Walsh has a theory that agent Tom Condon isn’t simply looking for a new deal for New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. He speculates that Condon is trying to raise the bar for all quarterback contracts. There’s some logic in there because Condon’s agency represents nearly half of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks.

How high can QB Cam Newton go?

December, 26, 2011
We all know that Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton is having an outstanding rookie season.

But what does it mean going forward? In this Insider post, our friends at Football Outsiders use “similarity scores’’ to find historical matches for contemporary players. They compared Newton to some pretty outstanding quarterbacks during some pretty outstanding seasons (and we’re not just talking rookie years for the other guys).

Their conclusion? We’ve never seen anything like Newton before. They say that it’s fair to compare Newton to a young Peyton Manning as a quarterback and a young Herschel Walker as a running back. That’s pretty high praise.

I’ve been saying for a couple months now that Newton is different than anything we’ve seen. You can say he throws like a Manning, Dan Marino or John Elway. You can also say he runs like Michael Vick or Tim Tebow.

There have been quarterbacks before that you could say one of those two things about. But I think Newton is the first guy you can say both things about.
Nice nugget from ESPN Stats & Information on multiple Heisman Trophy winners selected in the same draft and this one has big NFC South implications.

With Cam Newton and Mark Ingram both selected in the first round Thursday night, the 2011 draft marked just the seventh draft since 1967 in which more than one Heisman Trophy winner has entered the league in the same year.

Newton was picked No. 1 overall and he was college football’s Heisman Trophy winner last season. Ingram was taken at No. 28, after the Saints traded back into the first round to get him. Ingram won the Heisman in the 2009 college season.

The feat also happened in last year’s draft, when Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow both came with the trophy. Prior to that, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart came in together in 2006.

Beyond that, there was a much bigger gap in the time frame. Desmond Howard and Ty Detmer came in the 1992 draft. Vinny Testaverde and Bo Jackson were picked in the 1987 draft. Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie were selected in 1985. Billy Sims and Charles White were drafted in 1980.

Herschel Walker? Seriously?

January, 25, 2011
Somewhere in Hawaii, Atlanta Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner is probably waking up right about now. But the good news for Turner is he can roll over and go back to sleep. Pro Bowl practices don't start until Wednesday and there is another bit of news that isn’t going to cause Turner to lose any sleep.

Herschel Walker says he wants to make a football comeback and he wants to play for the Atlanta Falcons. I’m not sure how serious Walker was when he made those comments during a conference call to promote an upcoming MMA event, but … come on, Walker is 48 years old.

Yes, Walker always has been an athletic freak and he claims his MMA training has him in better shape than ever. I don’t question that, but the fact is Walker last played in the NFL in 1997.

Could the Falcons use another running back to go with Turner and Jason Snelling? Sure, they could use a speed back to fill the role they always wanted Jerious Norwood, who is about to become a free agent, to fill. But they can do that in the college draft.

The Falcons don’t need a side show, even though Walker is a Georgia native and played at the University of Georgia. Speaking of that, there was a time in the early 1980s when a lot of people said Walker was the greatest college football player ever. Then, in his last college game, Walker ran into Joe Paterno and Penn State and he never really looked the same after that (Paterno and Penn State did the same thing to Vinny Testaverde a few years later).

Walker went on to have a nice professional career in the United States Football League and the NFL, but he never quite was the dominant player he was through much of his college career. Yeah, all this talk about a return is going to bring Walker some attention.

But he should stick to the MMA thing. Paterno’s got more football left in him than Walker does.