Bo Jackson vs. Herschel Walker
Who is the better running back?
Tale of the Tape
Pos: Running Back Height: 6’1” Weight: 225lbs College: Auburn NFL Team(s): Oakland Raiders
Career Highlights: Two-Time All-American, 1985 Walter Camp Award Winner, 1985 Heisman Trophy Winner, Fastest Verifiable 40-Yard Dash in NFL Combine History (4.12) No. 1 Overall Pick of 1986 NFL Draft, 1989 MLB All-Star Selection, 1989 MLB All-Star Game MVP, 1993 AL Comeback Player of the Year
Strengths: In Bo’s prime, Jackson was arguably the greatest athlete of the century of any sport. Bo became the 1st athlete in history of sports to gain all-star honors in two major sports; as he became a pro bowl running back in the NFL and a All-Star outfielder in Major League Baseball. On the football field Jackson was unstoppable almost averaging nearly seven yards a carry at Auburn and averaged nearly six yards a carry with the Raiders in a part-time role. He was too big for linebackers to take down and too fast for corners and safeties to keep up with. Even as the 2nd string running back; Bo Jackson ran for over 2,500 yards in only a four-year span. If Jackson would have been the full-time starter, he would be known as the greatest football player to ever play the game.
Weakness: Many critics and Raider fans consider Jackson as a selfish player because they felt that he’d rather play baseball even though he was a better football player. Jackson was drafted No.1 in the 1986 NFL draft by Tampa Bay, but refused to play for them when both sides couldn’t agree on Jackson not risking injury by playing baseball; leading Jackson to sit out that season and sign to play Major League Baseball. The following year, Jackson was drafted by the Raiders in the 7th rd and sign a full-time contract but only had to report when the baseball season was over. Even though Jackson was a success in a part-time 2nd string role, many people felt that if he getting paid full-time money, he should be there full-time. Jackson looked very indestructible on the football field, but once he did go down he was down for good. A hip injury in a 1990, lead to a full hip replacement and the end of Jackson’s football career. A career-ending injury and being a dual-sport athlete, Jackson’s legacy will always be scared by the what-if factor when talk about among the greatest players of all-time.
Pos: Running Back Height: 6’1” Weight: 225lbs College: Georgia NFL Team(s): Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants.
Career Highlights: Three-Time All-American, 1980 Georgia National Championship, 1982 Walter Camp Award Winner, 1982 Maxwell Award Winner, 1982 Heisman Winner, Two-Time USFL Rushing Leader, 1985 USFL MVP, USFL All-Team Selection, Two-Time NFL All-Pro Selection, Two-Time NFL Pro Bowl Selection.
Strengths: In the 80’s and early 90’s, stats-wise Herschel Walker was the greatest running back to play football. From 1983-1985 Walker ran for 5,562 yards playing for the New York Generals of the USFL. In 1985 alone he ran for the 2,411 yards holding the record for most rushing yards in a single-season. When the USFL folded in 1986, Walker took his talents to the NFL and become the premier running back of the league. Herschel was a north-south runner that defenses would fear when they saw him coming their way with the football. He may have been known for his bruising running-style, but Walker also had the world-class speed as he was used often as a flanker and in kickoff/punt returns. In both the USFL and NFL Walker ran for a total of 13,787 yards good enough for 5th greatest all-time.
Weakness: Herschel Walker was one of the greatest college players of all-time and was the face of the up-start USFL; but many critics would claim that Walker overwhelming stats could be misleading due to the competition he faced. Walker gained over 5,000 rushing yards while in the USFL, but that was usually against very undersized defenses. In the NFL, Walker was never able to equal the stats that he had in the USFL as he only ran for over 1,000 yards in only two of eleven seasons. Walker problems in the NFL had a lot to do with bad coaching; many of his coaches couldn’t decide how to use Herschel talents causing him to be out of position most of his career. He never proved to be a championship-caliber as teams would always do better when Walker was gone. This was highlighted by the Cowboys trading him after two pro bowl seasons to the Vikings in the NFL biggest trade this century; sparking the Dallas Cowboys super bowl dynasty. Even with his unbelievable gifts, Walker never proved that he could pick on someone his own size.
And the winner is…… You couldn’t go wrong having either back as your feature star as both men had exciting speed and athleticism. Herschel Walker had a very decent football career, but he never lived up to the hype that he created coming out of the USFL. Bo Jackson was well on his way to the billing G.O.A.T, but a hip injury will always leave us wondering if he was one of a kind or just one of many. Both men were consider to be cut from the same cloth as both men shared the same height, weight, running style, and breakaway speed; but if you had to choose one of these two men to be your number one back you have to choose none other than Bo Jackson. What separated the two had to be Jackson’s speed as both men were truly fast, but Jackson fast has never been matched even until this day and age. Some may think that even with Bo speed, the durability issues may lead you to believe that Herschel Walker should be considered the better back. Even with his injury; Jackson’s yards per carry for a career were still better than Walker’s by almost two yards, and he played behind Hall of Famer Marcus Allen his whole career. If you gave both men the same amount of carries for a career, Bo Jackson would clearly have better stats than Herschel Walker and would be consider unanimously as the greatest running back of all-time.
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