Manton doesn't pretend to know what Walker will do. To the contrary, he doesn't even speculate. Those who know Walker as well or better are no less reluctant. Bob Newsome, the Wrightsville Ford dealer who has been Walker's longtime friend and benefactor, was recently quoted as saying "he'll stay" at Georgia. Two days later Walker refuted the forecast. "I don't see how anyone can speak for me," he said. Newsome, stung, retreated from his position, but still pushes for Walker to stay.
"Oh, I think he could challenge the NFL and win," Newsome says. "But I think somewhere in his life it would leave a void. The Heisman he didn't win, the Olympics he didn't run in, the records he would have set. He could wait two years. The money is going to come anyway. He'll be a millionaire five times over. Once you make five million, you don't stop and count it every day."
Walker admits that the Heisman "meant a lot to me" as a sophomore, when he privately harbored a dream of winning an unprecedented three straight, but "it doesn't mean anything anymore," and that running in the Olympics is something "anybody off the street would say he wants to do." New-some says Walker says that now, "but even though he's not a publicity seeker and wouldn't do something just to get his name in the paper, he really wanted those things. Even now, deep down, the Heisman means something to him. I hope for his sake he stays in school. He's good for sport. He's good for people. I'd hate to see him called a renegade. He'd win, but what would he win?"
Cavan says a "mutual friend" has indicated that Walker will stay at Georgia, "but if he left tomorrow, it wouldn't surprise me." Cavan, naturally, thinks Walker would be "making a mistake to leave, because he'll be passing up the chance to be the greatest college player who ever lived. Two more years and there wouldn't be anything on God's green earth he couldn't have.
"But I suppose," Cavan says, "it all boils down to how much of a legend he wants to be."