Just Look At Herschel Walker Now
2:33 PM EDT on October 20, 2022
Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, through here.
If you're burned out on politics from the past six-odd years, you might have glanced over Herschel Walker—that Herschel Walker; not some other, younger, more lucid or accomplished Herschel Walker—not only winning the Republican nomination for Senate candidate in Georgia, but potentially also being the pivotal figure in that party’s effort to win back control of the entire Senate chamber. This is, against monstrous odds, a relatively easy news story to overlook, given that America elected Donald Trump as its president in 2016. You’re well accustomed to American voters pulling this kinda shit.
But even if you don’t live in Georgia, bless your heart, you should probably start paying attention again. Because the next two years of federal governance, and perhaps beyond, may very well hinge on the political wiles of this man:
Now that’s an objectively funny piece of political theater. Herschel Walker whipping out a genuine official police badge that he found in a box of Frosted Krusty Flakes is right up there with “Well, when the President does it, that means it is not illegal,” “BYAH!!!,” and other oratory fuck-ups that are entrenched in the national memory. It is decidedly less funny that Walker is even at this point. He has no political experience, nor seemingly any genuine political interest. His track record as a businessman is—shockaroo!—shadier than a pecan tree. He’s been more responsible for more abortions than Nathaniel Hackett’s play sheet. He’s losing ground and can do nothing substantive about it, save for waiting for the wind to blow his way. And, most crucially, he is PROFOUNDLY unwell. He has said as much himself, repeatedly:
In his book, Walker acknowledges violent urges. He writes that he played Russian roulette and recounts sitting at his kitchen table in 1991 pointing a gun, loaded with a single bullet, at his head. “I wasn’t suicidal,” Walker explained, but “just looked at mortality as the ultimate challenge.”
Walker once told Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones that he would, on more than one occasion, play Russian roulette in front of houseguests. He was formally diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder back in 2001. His ex-wife says he once threatened to slit her throat with a straight razor before choking her until she blacked out. In both ability and deed, Walker is as unfit a Senate candidate as has ever been, and Lord knows there’s been a lot of competition for that title.
The Republican Party knows Walker is unfit, but couldn’t unearth a more suitable opponent for incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock because—and this is the entirety of it—they couldn’t find anyone else as famous.
“He comes in with 100 percent name ID, which you just don’t have, and high goodwill,” said Brian Robinson, a former spokesman for former Georgia governor Nathan Deal (R) and a political commentator in the state. “He was my first ever hero. I have not lived in a home where there was not some imagery of Herschel displayed. He was like the pope for us.”
Walker’s fame exists on gradations. If you’re an old-timer, you remember him as arguably the greatest running back in the history of college football. Go a little younger, and you remember him as the trade bait that helped usher in a new (and apparently final) dynasty of Dallas Cowboys football. Go younger than that, and he’s the Guy who could do a lot of push-ups, provided you believe such fairy tales of risin’ & grindin’. Those memories are Walker’s campaign strategy in full.
They also mean nothing. Herschel Walker is no longer relevant in the field that made him famous. He didn’t make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, nor did he stick around the league in the usual, prominent ways that ex-players like to: coaching, broadcasting, etc. And his college mythos, particularly in his home state, was built as much on his contributions to the Georgia Bulldogs’ 1980 national championship as much as it was his pure ability rushing the ball. But UGA, under the watch of Kirby Smart, has grown into a lasting juggernaut that no longer needs memories of the former Heisman winner to thrive. Football doesn’t need Herschel Walker anymore.
Even with all that evident, football remains all that Walker has to his name in 2022. In that way, he's no different from many of the broken men the NFL has left behind. What makes Walker a potentially frightening anomaly among those league alums is that his handlers have seen fit to use those ghosts not only to mount a Senate campaign, but to drive it. His fame is intractable, no matter its import. People know who Herschel Walker is, even if they don’t know why they know who he is. And we live in a country where the NFL acts as a branch of the government because, for all intents and purposes, it is one. That was enough for Mitch McConnell and his fellow gargoyles to stomach the idea of Walker as their potential savior.
And perhaps they’ll be rewarded for it. After all, American history is littered with electoral curiosities, such as Missouri electing a dead man to the Senate in 2001. The candidate is the cause, which means that their personal foibles—not being alive, for instance—are things that many voters are content to overlook. Many Georgia voters will be similarly content to overlook the man Herschel Walker is today, a man who is now far gone, to be a cursory rubber stamp for McConnell’s worst ideas.
Walker would be more than happy for them to do so: to ignore the ugliness of his past and the likely panoply of conditions underlying them. In fact, he’s as eager to forget who he is as his supporters are:
“As everyone knows, I had a real battle with mental health, even wrote a book about it,” Mr. Walker, the Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, said in a television ad released at the height of the abortion controversy. “And by the grace of God, I’ve overcome it.”
You and I both know that's a lie, but Republicans are more than willing to indulge this lie—almost certainly to Walker’s mental and physical detriment—in their eagerness to resume fucking over the general electorate.
Now, you can take that as partisan whining on my part, given that I’m a liberal. I won’t blame you for it. But what Walker's candidacy demonstrates, beyond the standard polarization, is not how Americans view vulnerability in others but how they use it for their own gain. Some might use expressing sympathies as an easy and public way of showing they have a soul. Some might use their own mental illness as potential cover for acts of malevolence. Some, like Walker and everyone else around him, might treat it as an inconvenience. Something in the way. Nothing worth looking at or caring about, certainly not closely. That last group has an ally in a country that loves to talk about mental health so long as it doesn’t have to look at the ugly parts of it. And when Americans DO see the nasty bits, they're still prone to either express disgust, or they ignore it, because it suits their needs to do so.
Republicans would like Georgians to believe that nothing is wrong with Herschel Walker. Walker would like them to do the same, and somehow that's been enough to get him this far, on the brink of official statesmanship. If Walker wins and becomes a decisive vote in the U.S. Senate, it’ll be further proof that people are only treated as well or unwell as other people want them to be. I don't need to tell you that this is fucked, but I want to anyway, because this is deeply fucked. So look at Herschel Walker, and see him for who he is, and not who you want or don’t want him to be. The cost of looking away is steeper than you might guess.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
None. Rough slate this week. I blame Dan Snyder.
Falcons at Bengals: Both of these teams have already taken full advantage of the NFL’s revised helmet guidelines this season. Prior to this season, all teams had to have the same color helmet shells for every game. The decals they could fuck around with, but the base color had to remain consistent. The NFL finally lifted that edict for 2022 and the results, all around, have been SPECTACULAR. I love these fucking helmets! Loogit this bad-ass shit!
And this one, which Atlanta re-debuted a week ago!
And don’t forget the new Power Rangers helmets, too! They have no upper facemask! WHAAAH?!
I could stare at these helmets all day, and have. Once upon a time, if I wanted new color on an NFL field, I had to wait until some lousy Thursday night game where Nike unveiled a new set of Color Rush long johns for players to wear. No longer! No no, this time I actually get both color AND contrast. And if you don’t like these helmets, then guess what? FUCK YOU! Why don’t you go shop for another mauve jacket at Eddie Bauer, you joyless fuckhead?! I bet you call Mike Brown “Mister!" I’ll shit in your car! MORE COOL HELMETS, PLEASE.
Chiefs at Niners: In other swag news, all of the NFL’s new tie-dye gear reminds me of the time I made a homemade tie-dye t-shirt at summer camp back in, like, 1989. The end result did not look like a proper tie-dye job. It looked like I’d thrown that t-shirt into the washer with a package of grapes.
Seahawks at Chargers
Colts at Titans
Bears at Patriots: You’re familiar with Adam Schefter’s fuckery by now, but every week he still finds new ways to lick himself a boot:
Honestly, why the fuck should I care that Bob Kraft got married? I’m still angry that I have to know who Bob Kraft even IS. I don’t know who the CEO of Pepsi is now, do I? I bet he’s a real asshole! Probably married to a raging biscuit of a woman!
Lions at Cowboys: Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is singlehandedly attempting to bring back wearing your hat backward among middle-aged men. I’m not optimistic that he’ll succeed.
Saints at Cardinals: The only way this game tonight will be worth watching is if Kyler Murray strangles Kliff Kingsbury to death right there on the sideline. And you know what? It could happen. This Cardinals team is worse than England.
Browns at Ravens
Steelers at Dolphins
Jets at Broncos
Giants at Jaguars
Packers at Commanders
Texans at Raiders: I’ve watched more baseball this month than I have in years, and all of the playoff goodness has reminded me of one thing: that warning track fly balls are the worst. Fucking teasing-ass non-homers. If your fly ball makes it to the warning track, that should be a home run. I bet Rob Manfred agrees with me. He and I are gonna figure out a way to make it happen.
Bucs at Panthers
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
In the spirit of Halloween, it’s “(You Must Fight To Live) On The Planet Of The Apes,” by The Mummies! From Lou:
It makes me want to hurt myself and other people. Plus, the guys dressed like mummies (duh), played shitty instruments, and toured in an ambulance. Fuck Ozzy.
But do they hate every ape they see, from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z? That’s the real question.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Stephanie sends in this story I’ll call FARTIN’ STATE.
It was the end of summer and I wanted one last trip to the beach with my fiancé. We drove from Philly to Cape May and had an absolute blast. The weather was perfect, the beach was fairly empty, and there were gluten free hot dogs. With my gluten allergy, finding a good dog and bun that tastes great and doesn't make me sick is quite hard, but Hot Dog Tommy's has a fantastic, buttery bun that almost tastes like the real thing. I also loaded it up with mashed potatoes and bacon; this girl was in paradise. We followed that up with some frozen custard from Kohr's, and watched the sunset over the cape. It was a truly magical day. The evening would be a horror show
We had gotten engaged last summer, and so my fiancé and I had been taking care to eat right to lose some weight before our big day. Of course, he can eat whatever he wants whenever, and he is fine. But if I make big changes to my diet, sometimes my digestive system fights back. We hit some construction on the Garden State Parkway, and running over a rumble strip nearly makes me shit myself. My stomach hurts, I'm sweating, and the nearest rest stop is 20 miles away.
But my husband to be jumps into action, and drives 90 all the way to the rest stop on the Atlantic City Expressway. The main building is locked up for the night, but the bathroom in the gas station is open. I get there just in time and sweet relief follows... partially. 2 south jersey swamp creatures are just hanging out in the shitter talking to every stranger that walks in, and continues to do so even as they are using the bathroom. My social and pandemic anxiety kicks in and my sphincter closes up shop halfway through. We hurry out to the car and I tell him what happened.
I'm still in bad shape, but I think I can make it. I pooped a little on the toilet, and it's only 35-40 minutes back to the city. Five minutes down the road, and I realized I had screwed up. Again with the stomach pain, again with the sweats. I scream at my fiancé to pull over, this poop is coming now whether I want it to or not.
Thing is, when I go to the beach, I wear a jumpsuit for the ride home. It's comfy and easy to put on at the beach. The only downside is you basically have to get naked to use the bathroom. That's usually not a problem in the privacy of a stall. It's more of a problem on the side of the highway.
So there I am, stark naked except a bra, screaming, "WE WILL NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN," with the doors open on my car to give me a stall, with my fiancé holding up a beach towel to give me more privacy from the passing traffic as I unleash a wet torrent of liquid shit all over the side of the AC Expressway. We have some paper towels in the car that I wipe with, I get dressed and we head home.
My fiancé can't stop laughing. Mile marker 36.2. I tell him again we are never to speak of it again, and he is to tell no one what happened. We talk about it the whole way home and I text the details to 3-4 of my best friends.
I've told my fiancé in no uncertain terms that the only thing I want out of life is to see him have to shit on the side of the road like I had to.
Honestly, I’m still thinking about mashed potatoes on a hot dog. Is that really a thing people do?
Which Idiot GM Is This?
You know your team is in good hands when the man in charge of the roster is a professionally sweaty guy who MEANS BUSINESS. Which team does the man below hold in his meaty paws?
That’s Dave Ziegler of the Raiders. Ziegler can’t believe this, but his superiors have informed him that you’re going… to Top Gun.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Genny Light! We’ve done regular Genesee here, and we’ve done the fabled Genesee Cream Ale. But sometimes you want a Genny that fits your active, mountain-climbing lifestyle. Reader Jacob has found it:
I don't have a story for you like, "My college roommates and I got a 30-pack of Genny Light one evening, and the next morning I woke up sandwiched between an inflatable sex doll covered in whipped cream and an orangutan with its head severed." I just saw it in a liquor mart and it looked appropriate enough for the Jamboroo. Any beer that costs $9.99 for a 30-pack probably is.
Your instincts served you well on that end, Jake.
Gameday Movie Of The Week For Panthers Fans
Ambulance! Yes, it’s Jake Gyllenhaal Appreciation Month here at Defector, which brings us to our man headlining Michael Bay’s latest opus. Michael Bay is an acquired taste, but R-rated Michael Bay is cinema at its very blowest-uppest. When you let that director go the full Michael Bay, I’ll forgive pretty much anything he does, as I do in Ambulance. This movie features all of the standard Bayisms. The blatant product placement. The robber who’s actually a troop. The fact that L.A.’s best paramedic just so happens to be its hottest one. Wale added to the cast to raise the sass level by a solid 60 percent. It’s all here, but fuck me if all of the frenetic car chases and gunplay didn’t give me a welcome case of revived preteendom. I did my fair share of eye-rolling for the first 20 minutes of Ambulance, but when the ambulance started moving? Bay had me in his dutifully manicured hands the rest of the way.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“The torch has been passed to a new generation of, uh, snowplow people. Come on, give me the key… These look like teeth marks!”
“I thought there was chocolate inside!”
“Well, why was it wrapped in foil?”
“It was never wrapped in foil!”
Enjoy the games, everyone.