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What may be more significant about Walker's extraordinary first year was the effect he had on 99 others, namely the members of the Georgia team whom he turned from a 6-5 crew of stumblebums into national champions partly by showing them how to hang on to his considerable bootstraps. With Walker on their side the Dogs knew they always had a chance against anybody. "I've thought about it a lot," says Happe, "and I guess what Herschel gave us was a sense of image for ourselves. He hardly talked on the field, but his own discipline seemed to diffuse our rambunctiousness. He set a standard of excellence, to try hard all the time, and damn if anybody was going to let up. You knew if you did your job, Herschel would work it out and we'd win. It sounds corny, but I get excited just thinking about him."
Possibly nothing like what happened to Georgia had taken place in college sports since the present junior Senator from New Jersey singlehandedly carried a ragtag Princeton basketball team to the NCAA final four in 1965. But Bill Bradley was a senior then. And Bradley failed.
At New Orleans, going for the brass ring against the mighty Fighting Irish, the Georgia offense came up empty; Quarterback Buck Belue missed on his first 12 passes, and the Dogs' team yardage—excepting the tailback—amounted to minus 23 yards. On his second carry Walker's left shoulder "subluxated" after a chilling hit from Notre Dame's Bob Crable, and he had to leave the game. Georgia trainer Warren Morris said it was the kind of injury that normally knocks a player out for three weeks. On Georgia's next possession Walker went back'in. A major part of the Dogs' game plan was to throw screen passes to Walker to counter the Irish rush. No runner had gained 100 yards on Notre Dame all season. But now Walker was ordered not to try to catch a pass, not to stiff-arm and to hold the ball only with his right hand.
Subsequently, half crippled, Walker ran for 150 yards, scored two touchdowns and led Georgia to a 17-10 victory and its first national championship.
Someday I reckon
they will know
Now that there has been time to reflect, is it possible that Walker had the most dramatic, successful, heroic year any college athlete ever had? Now that he is a wizened sophomore on the verge of another chapter in this remarkable saga, is it possible that Walker will have three more years like it? Moreover, now that this quiet colossus of a young man has put himself in position to take on the Russians on the cinders, the NFL in the courts and who knows what-all in the adult garden of verses and politics, is it really possible that Herschel Walker will never get tired because his life is too filled with wonders to risk missing any of them?
Yes sir. Immortality ain't heavy.