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There's an old political saying that holds that voters start out as liberals and wind up as conservatives as life experiences push them across the political spectrum. There's no old saying about how people's views about getting punched and kicked in the face differ over time, but it's safe to say that it is something people enjoy less as they enter their golden years. Herschel Walker is doing his best to disprove that theory.
The former Cowboys, Vikings, Eagles and Giants running back has signed with mixed martial arts organization Strikeforce and will fight as a heavyweight on their cards at some point in the near future. At 47, it seems like an odd move but then you remember articles during Walker's NFL career that outlined his fanatical fitness regimen which included copious amounts of martial arts. Okay, that doesn't really make it seem much less odd, but it does explain why he'd be willing to expose himself to grievous bodily harm at this point in his life.
Strikeforce, a promotion that is trying to compete with industry leader UFC, has a television deal with CBS starting in November, but outside of Fedor Emelianenko they don't have many well-known fighters under contract with their company. That makes you think signing Walker may be more about shock and publicity value than actually thinking he can have a long and fruitful career, but Strikeforce's director of communications insisted that wasn't the case in an interview with Ariel Helwani of FanHouse.
"This isn't a publicity stunt or a gimmick," Mike Afromowitz said. "Herschel Walker has tremendous athleticism, and he has always shown that off the gridiron. He's accomplished a lot in his life and in the world of sports. His accomplishments speak for themselves, and we hope that his athleticism can transition into a successful MMA career."
We hope so too, because we don't want to see Walker get beaten to a bloody pulp just so a nascent organization gets a little more media coverage. You'd guess that he won't step into the cage with anyone too fearsome, but experience counts for a lot as numerous failed crossovers into boxing will tell you.
Athletic exploits aside, there's a lot in Walker's history to suggest that his desire to join up with the buzzy world of MMA is genuine. This is not a man who likes to miss a trend. He joined up with the USFL when people thought the new league had a serious shot at challenging the NFL for American football superiority. Walker then moved into bobsledding during that sport's brief but heady bump in visibility as a result of the Jamaican team at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Finally, and most recently, he jumped on the reality TV bandwagon as a contestant on the latest season of "The Celebrity Apprentice."
What drives a man to try so many different walks of life? It can't hurt that Walker suffers from multiple personality disorder. Hopefully the one that wants to be a simple dirt farmer in Moorhead, Minnesota doesn't pop up while Walker's in the middle of an MMA fight. Beyond the utter panic going on inside Walker's head, the resulting bloodbath could deal a fatal blow to the sport's efforts to gain full mainstream acceptance.