He also said everybody was talking about everybody else's interests and missing the point. "I'm a religious person. I believe the Bible, and the Bible says God wants you to stand on your own two feet," Walker explained. He added that he is old enough now to speak for himself and that he doesn't think it's right "that everybody tries to hold you back from choosing for yourself, from making your own decision." He said it isn't the money that's the issue, although he certainly could use it to help his family, "and if I get hurt before I turn pro I won't be able to do it." He said the core of the matter was that "I want to be successful, and I want to be happy, and it's my life," not the University of Georgia's life or the NFL's or anybody else's.
Would he, then, challenge the NFL?
"It is a strong possibility," he said.
When? Tomorrow? Soon?
"I never set times," he said.
And then, lounging there in the upholstered chair, his massive muscles straining the fibers of his black T shirt with the bulldog and 1980 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS in a little red-and-white circle on the left breast, he relaxed a little, and he said, "You can do a lot of things with your mind." He said, "You can create things. You can have a lot of fun."
Which brings us to:
Part II) and the more practical, less fun considerations of those with other views on the matter.
The NFL is, naturally, of a mood to repulse such a challenge, even though it expects to see Walker's flying feet on its fields one day soon, anyway. "Commissioner [Pete] Rozelle is obligated to defend the rules of the league," says Jan Van Duser, director of operations for the NFL. The eligibility rule goes back to the 1920s, and though on the surface it seems to favor the colleges, it amounts to a sweetheart deal for the pros. In return for keeping hands off the college players, the NFL gets a de facto farm system that assures an orderly procession of mature talent into the player draft and no bidding wars among the clubs. It also has enhanced the pros' relations with the wary colleges.
It must be remembered, however, that it isn't the draft per se that Walker would challenge. He knows that might be "unconstitutional, too"—it was found to be in violation of federal antitrust laws in 1976, before it was reinstated consensually by the NFL players in the Collective Bargaining Agreement of 1977—but he grants its "fairness" in maintaining competitive balance in the league. What is not fair, he says, is restraining a man "from making a living when he sees fit, not when somebody else decides he's old enough. I think I'm mature enough to play in the NFL right now, but I don't have that option."