What Is Truth? Nobel Prize Winner Herschel Walker Not So Sure
GOP Senate candidate and occasional Georgia resident Herschel Walker is not a famous intellectual. He played football for the University of Georgia, earning All-American honors three times and the Heisman Trophy in 1982. He’s considered one of the greatest college football players by people who keep track of that sort of thing. He had a relatively successful professional football career. This is sufficiently impressive, but Walker has felt the need to exaggerate his past achievements.
Specifically, Walker has claimed during motivational speeches over the years that he graduated from UGA, which isn’t true. He left after three years to play for the New Jersey Generals. That’s not a scandal, and no one would blame him for going pro as soon as he had the chance. Universities make a fortune from college players, but don’t pay them a cent. If they are seriously injured, it’s all over for them. They’re stuck with a journalism degree.
Walker has compounded this lie with the less-than-plausible claim that he graduated in the top one percent of his class, but 1982 profiles in the Christian-Science Monitor and the New York Times clearly state that he maintained a B average at UGA. Walker told the Chicago Tribune in 1985 that he had a 3.0 before his grades dropped. This won’t get you into the top one percent, because As exist.
According to CNN’s KFile, Walker has repeatedly and needlessly misrepresented his academic credentials. His personal story is inspirational enough, but he seemingly wanted to jazz it up some more.
Here he is in 2017. Perhaps Donald Trump’s recent presidential victory had sold him on the merit of alternative facts.
WALKER: And all of sudden I started going to the library, getting books, standing in front of a mirror reading to myself ... So that Herschel that all the kids said was retarded become valedictorian of his class. Graduated University of Georgia in the top one percent of his class.
Oh, yeah, Walker has also claimed he was valedictorian of his high school class. If you’re going to lie, just say you graduated third. You wouldn’t have given a public speech that your classmates might remember. That’s the toughest thing about graduating third in your class. No one ever believes you.
Walker did pretty well in high school. He was in the school’s Beta Club, but there’s no evidence that he was valedictorian. His website now more obliquely states that he graduated “top of his class.”
"If I'm proud of anything I did in my high school career, it's what I did in the classroom that I reflect on and relish the most. I did more than just shed the 'stupid' label placed on me as a result of my speech impediment. I shed it, erased it, and rewrote it with the titles: Beta Club president and class valedictorian," wrote Walker in his 2008 "Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder."
Walker has a track record of tall tales. He’s lied about his business record, claiming in 2018 that he "owned the largest minority-owned chicken business in the United States. I’m essentially a mini Tyson Foods.” He’d later admit in litigation that he didn’t "mean to speak of ‘own’ in a technical sense.”
Mallory Blount, communications director for Walker’s campaign, shamefully insisted there’s "not a single voter in Georgia who believes that whether Herschel graduated at the 'top of his class' or as Valedictorian 40 years ago has any bearing on his ability to be a great United States Senator.”
I haven’t lived in Georgia for a while, but I think the residents care whether their elected officials can tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Walker is a dumpster fire candidate.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."