Walker relishing fatherhood, Bulldogs' season

If Christian Alexander Walker sees the telecast of Georgia in Saturday's SEC championship game, the 3-year-old will think his famous father should be playing.

ATHENS, Ga. - If Christian Alexander Walker sees the telecast of Georgia in Saturday's SEC championship game, the 3-year-old will think his famous father should be playing.

Many Georgia fans might have the same feeling.

"I don't even know how he picked this up, but every time football is on he thinks I'm playing," Herschel Walker said this week as he took a break from watching cartoons with his son as they visited Herschel's parents in Wrightsville, Ga.

"He says 'That's Daddy there,'" Walker said. "So everybody that is playing football is Daddy."

Since Walker led the Bulldogs to three straight Southeastern Conference championships, Georgia fans have waited for another player or another team to remind them of the magic of 1980-82.

In Walker's three years as Georgia's star tailback, the Bulldogs lost only one regular-season game. Georgia won the 1980 national championship in Walker's freshman year and as SEC champions played in the Sugar Bowl three straight years.

Now Georgia is playing for another SEC title and another trip to the Sugar Bowl 'or possibly even a chance at the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl.

Just as the drive for the SEC championship has some fans looking back at the Walker years, the 40-year-old Walker is similarly drawn to inevitable comparisons.

"Since I've gotten out of school, I've followed the team no matter what," Walker said before adding "This year was a little more special."

Walker attended this year's Georgia-Alabama game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and says he knew with that 27-25 win for the Bulldogs that this would be a special season.

But just as the 12-0 1980 team had some doubters that were not silenced until the Sugar Bowl national championship victory over Notre Dame, Walker says the current Bulldogs "still are not getting their just due from a lot of people around the country."

Said Walker: "I think people still think they don't have the team that they have, but that's what happened to us (in 1980). When we won a national championship, people didn't believe in us but we got into the big games and won them."

A current player who has captured Walker's admiration is senior Terrence Edwards, Georgia's career record-holder in most major categories for receivers.

"Terrence has really done so many great things," Walker said. "Last year he had a couple of dropped passes but that just shows a winner because the guy has not let down. He has had a great year this year. I watched him come back in the Georgia Tech game after the injury he had."

Walker also mentioned sophomore Fred Gibson "who is probably one of the best big-time receivers in the country" and said "there's no doubt" that quarterback David Greene "has really showed that he has matured."

Walker admires the talented players but says Coach Mark Richt is the difference-maker in the program.

"Overall, you have to give it to Coach Richt because Coach Richt has pulled this team together and made a winning atmosphere," Walker said. "I think Georgia has found a very good coach and I think they've got to keep him."

Added Walker: "What (Richt) does I think is what players need. The discipline in going out and working hard. That's what I like about him."

Walker is a master of discipline, especially in physical conditioning. His pro football career ended in 1997, but still he follows the same daily workout regime - "all the different isometrics with pushups and sit-ups and dips and all of the running."

Walker, a candidate to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January, maintains the same weight 'about 220 pounds 'as when he played.

"I'm still ready to go (play)," he said before adding with a laugh "Probably when I'm 70 I'll make a comeback and be the George Foreman of football."

Walker ranks second on the NFL career list for all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving and returns). Including his years in the USFL, he posted the most all-purpose yards in pro football history.

Walker says his discipline is a product of "growing up in South Georgia, where you always worked, no matter what."

"Staying in that kind of condition goes along with my life," he said. "It's work, but I enjoy it.  It's become my high. I don't need to take drugs or drink. My high is working out and doing a good job in my business and that's what I get excited about."

Walker also gets excited about he and his wife, Cindy, becoming parents.

"I have a lot of nephews and nieces but I never thought I would be a father," he said. "When he was born it was like a blessing. He's a neat little boy and I think everybody says that about that kid. Everybody thinks that kid is the most beautiful and wonderful kid in the world."

Added Walker: "(Christian) changed my life."

Walker says hopes he son has an interest in sports but adds "I won't let him get into football probably until he's 14 or 15. When he turns 4, I'm going to put him in a soccer class and a martial arts class."

Walker and his family live in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas. He owns a food distribution business that takes most of his time, but he is finding it more and more important to spend time in his home state. He has an office in Savannah and an apartment in Duluth, and he says he is considering a full-time move back to Georgia 'perhaps to become involved in politics.

Walker is making a public appearance in downtown Athens this morning for an Atlanta radio station, and he will attend some other functions connected with the SEC championship game in Atlanta.

But Walker won ' t attend the game. On Saturday morning, he plans to drive back to Wrightsville and watch the game with his family.

"I see a lot more on TV," he said.

So does his son.

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