FILE - Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Herschel Walker throws a football to a supporter during a campaign rally Nov. 29, 2022, in Greensboro, Ga. Walker is in a runoff election with incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

If I have one problem, it’s that I’m too sensitive.

Many people – okay, just I – tell me that all the time.

After Herschel Walker acknowledged his recent defeat in the U.S. Senate race for Georgia – whew! – I thought I’d be exultant and happy that he didn’t win.

I mean, Herschel is about as qualified to be a U.S. senator as my childhood neighbors’ cat – and Fluffy’s been dead for 50 years.

Instead of joy, though, I felt pity and heard myself a few times saying “poor Herschel” without meaning to.

The dude went – lickety-split – from an object of revulsion and ridicule to one who looked like he needed a hug.

Part of my sympathy for him may lie in the fact that Herschel’s and my professional careers began around the same time in Georgia in 1979 – his stampeding up and down the football field at the University of Georgia in Athens and mine fetching coffee and dry cleaning for busy editors at the Atlanta Constitution newspaper.

He was from a little bitty Georgia city called Wrightsville and I was from a little bitty North Carolina city called Rockingham.

We’re both prone to exaggeration, too. He said he graduated at the top of his high school class and was a cop; I, for years, said I was an award-winning journalist without specifying that the “award” I won was the spelling bee in Mrs. Robinson’s 6th grade class.

That’s where our similarities ended. He was a phenomenon from Day 1 and even inspired a song that became a regional hit, “Give Herschel Walker The Ball (You All).”

To me, though, the most memorable thing he did was not on the gridiron, but in front of a microphone. Wrightsville was experiencing some racial turmoil and both sides of it were trying to get Herschel to speak up for them.

That’s a heavy load to lay on the most sophisticated 18-year-old, and Herschel was not that.

When asked to take sides, teenage Herschel’s response still rings out — “I just wanna play football,” he said.

I’m sure he did. To the discerning eye, it was obvious throughout the election and especially minutes after it was over that Herschel still just wanted to play football – or be anywhere other than running for a senate seat that even he had to know he was unqualified for. (Nearly two million Georgia voters knew it, too – and amazingly still voted for him.)

During the election and runoff, it was important to amplify the vast philosophical, political and moral differences between Walker and his opponent, the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Walker was going to come out on the short end of each of those.

Post-election, though, the people who still call Herschel dumb and a sellout are being gratuitously cruel, like pulling the wings off an already-wounded fly.

Several years ago, some guy became famous for seven-and-a-half minutes for making a cringey video defending Brittney Spears from her critics: “Leave Brittney Alone,” he wept unashamedly.

I’m not going to shed any tears for him but I, too, say “Leave Herschel Alone.”

And if you care for him, see that he seeks some help.

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Barry Sanders is publisher of The Saunders Report, an online news platform based in the Raleigh-Durham area. A veteran journalist, he has written for newspapers including the News & Observer of Raleigh...

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  1. Don’t like Raphael Warnock & don’t like that he said soldiers can’t serve God. I think he voted for special interests & frivolous things in other states. I think he is a false prophet & can’t wait till someone beats him

  2. I I’m about 5 years younger than Herschel Walker. as a 9-year-old, I believe, maybe it was those racial problems in Wrightsville that I speak of because that was the first time I had ever heard of the ku Klux Klan. I learn very quickly that they were to be feared and also, unfortunately, every white person that I knew who smiled at me, was not my friend. Herschel Walker knows better than any of us the damages of racism but he chooses to turn a blind eye to this scourge that continues to play our society to this very day. that is why so many black people are offended by his running as a Republican. not to mention, he cannot make a coherent sentence and when he does make this attempt, it is absolutely ludicrous. he makes black people look bad and especially black men. I hope that someday he dedicates his brain to science because I personally believe he is a poster child for CTE. Herschel play at a time where a concussion was simply, “he had his bail rung’. there was no concussion protocol back then. There’s no telling how much brain damage he has sustained. Feel sorry for him but also feel disdain for the institutions that have allowed this to happen.

  3. I feel sorry for Herschel. He was used by the Republicans and will now be discarded like used toilet paper. He needs help.

  4. Herschel…I voted for you..and would do it again!! You were and are as qualified as any of those idiots running this country at the White House!!!! TRUE…TRUE …TRUE!!! The Dem- wits have a senile old hateful man that has to be shown how to exit a stage by a child…and call him President!! God help us! I would rather my vote went for a m a n who a t least did not use God’s house for his blasphemy and hypocrisy. The real”dumb ” people are the ones who voted for this so called “Reverend”!! Ha!

    1. Yes true while anyone can be a senator or run for senate but you have to be honest with yourself to know you over your head. The only one that can help him is himself. Any man that has kids and the kids don’t know each other could never be a leader.

  5. There are no qualifications for being a US Senator other than being a legal citizen. Anyone of us can run. Mr. Walker’s problem was not about qualifications. It was about his inability to articulate his positions and his dishonesty and exaggerations regarding his personal life.

    1. Allow Herschel Walker to return to the great state of Texas in peace. We are blessed Georgians to have dodge a big one.