Playing the Trump Card

February 23, 1983 – Herschel Walker, junior running back from the University of Georgia, signed with Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals of the new United States Football League for an estimated $1.5 million a year, making him by far the highest-paid player in football history at the time.

Until 1989, college football players were not eligible to enter the NFL draft until their designaed collegiate class had graduated.  Fortunately for Herschel Walker the USFL did not have such a rule.  By signing with the upstart league it would offer him the chance to maximize his endorsement income and the opportunity to choose where he wanted to play.  This was the perfect fit considering Walker made it publicly known that he wasn't sure he wanted to play in the NFL unles it was for either of the New York teams or the Dallas Cowboys.

Herschel would go on to win the USFL rushing title in 1983 and 1985 and in the latter year produced over 4,000 yards in total offense. He set the professional football record for single-season rushing yards with 2,411 yards in 1985, averaging 5.50 yards per attempt in 18 games. Over the course of his USFL career, Walker had 5,562 yards rushing in 1,143 carries, averaging 4.87 yards. In 1983, he rushed for 1,812 yards in 18 games. In his second season, his rushing yardage dropped to 1,339, but he caught passes for more than 800 yards giving him over 2,100 yards in total offense.


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