Herschel Walker, who played in the NFL from 1986 to 1997 and won the 1982 Heisman Trophy while playing at the University of Georgia, is in Washington, D.C., to promote physical activity and help reduce health care costs.
WASHINGTON – It’s been a long time since Herschel Walker ran against the Redskins in a Dallas Cowboys uniform, but the ageless 51-year-old appears fit enough to take the field again at a moment’s notice.
Walker, who played in the NFL from 1986 to 1997 and won the 1982 Heisman Trophy while playing at the University of Georgia, is in D.C. to promote physical activity and help reduce health care costs.
His work is, well, a good fit.
“Every day I’m doing about 3,500 sit-ups, about 1,500 pushups every day,” says Walker, whose dedication to fitness is legendary.
The average baby boomer would likely feel good about doing that many sit-ups in a year, much less a day – not to mention Walker’s daily run and a bike ride of 15 to 25 miles a day. But he urges people to just do what they can, and not make excuses for failing to exercise.
“You’ve always got time, you’ve just got to make time,” says Walker, who visited the WTOP studios this week, while in D.C. for the 14th National Health Through Fitness Day, which is sponsored by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
Walker, who still follows the NFL closely, says Redskins star Robert Griffin III should take his time as he recovers from his ACL injury, which occurred in the team’s playoff game loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
“I know RG3 and my advice would be to him, ‘don’t rush it,’ ” Walker says.
“I think last year, the last game, I’m not sure whether he should have played that game, but you know I’m not on this team.”
Walker says the main thing now is for RG3 is to get healthy for another successful season.
“One thing I told (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones when RG3 went to Washington – I said you’re going to have to deal with this guy for a long time. This guy is an excellent, excellent player – very, very talented,” he says.
“He’s a leader and a leader can take you a long ways and that’s what he’s doing.”
Walker, who’s still at his college playing weight, is passionate about sports and physical fitness.
He’s concerned about the growing trend of kids spending more time in front of computers and tablets than taking part in physical activity. He notes that before he became an outstanding athlete, he wasn’t exactly tearing up the playground as a kid.
“One of the things I try to tell a lot of young kids is that … if it wasn’t for physical education I wouldn’t be here today,” he says, noting he was slightly overweight as a child and had a speech impediment.
“Don’t worry about what people think about you. Worry about what you think about yourself,” he says, adding that parents need to do more to praise their kids, rather than focusing on negatives.
Walker and many other athletes are taking their message to Capitol Hill Wednesday, as part of an effort to get Americans of all ages to adopt physical active and healthy lifestyles, as well as back proposals to provide school districts grants for innovative physical education and tax benefits linked to sports activities.
Among those scheduled to take part are U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm, the Baltimore Ravens’ Torrey Smith and Bernard Pierce and former Redskin All-Pro Ken Harvey.