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A crowd gathered.
"You're not Walker," said a new voice.
"Yes I am. I'm Walker."
"Naw, you're not. You're not Herschel Walker."
"No. I'm Walker Lee Ashley. From Penn State. You'll be hearing about me."
The crowd dispersed.
Amid the incessant woofs of humans imitating bulldogs and the roars of proud Pennsylvanians who had painted their faces with blue lions' paws, the word most often heard throughout New Orleans all week long before Saturday's Sugar Bowl game was Walker, Walker, Walker. The thousands of Georgia fans took it as gospel that Herschel Walker, the Bulldogs' Heisman Trophy-winning junior tailback, was unstoppable, a man among boys—and little else mattered. In the 35 games Walker had played for Georgia, the Bulldogs had won 33 and lost two, both of them a season ago, sandwiched between two undefeated campaigns—the first culminating in a national championship with a win over Notre Dame in the '81 Sugar Bowl, the latest dawggone sure to wind up with another Sugar Bowl victory and another title.
Penn State had other ideas. When the Nittany Lions had won, 27-23, and the woofing had finally stopped, members of the Penn State band ringing the Lions' bus outside the Superdome chanted "Walker Lee! Walker Lee!" for their heroic defensive end, while the other Walker skulked off nearly unnoticed into the darkness, his pride and his right shoulder somewhat out of joint from the beating he had taken.
Inside the Dome during the preceding hours a great football game had been played, only the sixth postseason matchup of a No. I team (Georgia) and a No. 2 team (Penn State) since the Associated Press Poll began in 1936.
Earlier in the week in response to a remark by Ashley that Penn State was going to "make Herschel mighty sore," Walker had said, "Talk is cheap. If everyone got paid for talking we'd have a lot of rich people in the world." And then Herschel went right on talking.