Looking Back On the Herschel Walker Trade. Yup, It Still Sucks.


25 years ago this week, the Minnesota Vikings made the worst trade in the history of sports.

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25 years ago the Vikings dealt 5 players and 8 draft picks including 3 firsts to the Dallas Cowboys for RB Herschel Walker and 4 picks, none higher than a 3rd.

You know how the trade turned out. Herschel Walker was a bust with the Vikings, while the Cowboys used their picks to help build their multi-championship dynasty.

Walker was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle for Minnesota, the weapon who put the perennially offensively-challenged team over the top.

Apparently the front office, led at the time by Mike Lynn, failed to notice all the other missing pieces on the Vikings. Including the yawning void at quarterback.

In a supreme act of self-deception, Lynn convinced himself that all he needed do was add a top running back to the offensive and defensive pieces he already possessed and championships would flow like crystal clear Minnesota water from a tap.

He was doubly-wrong it turned out. Wrong about his team’s needs and wrong about what Walker represented.

Walker was not a top-of-the-line dominating Walter Payton/Eric Dickerson running back but a complementary back, a good piece who needed other good pieces around him in order to be of value.

Walker supporters will still argue to this day that Minnesota simply used Walker the wrong way. Had they correctly employed his skills as a runner and receiver, he would not have been a bust.

The fact is, even had the Vikings squeezed a little more production out of Walker by using him differently, there was no way he was ever going to live up to what was expected.

That trade was doomed to be a bust the second it was made. It was ill-conceived from the start. It was a fleecing.

Mike Lynn is reviled by Viking fans for trading away whatever chance the team had of building a championship squad in the ’90s.

The Vikings would go on to have a decent decade, with Dennis Green as head coach, going 15-1 in 1998 and just missing the Super Bowl.

So you can argue the Herschel Walker trade didn’t totally derail the franchise but merely set it back. They did after all end up drafting Randy Moss down the road.

Does this let Mike Lynn off the hook? No. Not even a little.

Because it’s not the effect the trade had on the Vikings that really makes it infamous. It’s the effect it had on Dallas.

The hated Cowboys, the team that robbed the Vikings of a Super Bowl appearance in 1975 thanks to Drew Pearson’s push-off, stole three more championships that should have gone to Minnesota. That’s how history sees it.

Had Dallas not gone on to get Emmitt Smith with part of the bounty they received in the trade, and then gone on to win three titles with Smith leading the way, the deal would not look so one-sided.

It would be nice if we could now spin the trade as something that ultimately didn’t matter, something that looked humiliating at the time but turned out to be only a minor speed bump, but that simply is not the case.

25 years later, the Herschel Walker trade still looks like an insanely stupid move. 25 years later, you still wince when you think about where the Vikings and Cowboys franchises ended up after that crossroads.

You think about Jerry Jones getting the last laugh and it makes you want to puke.

I for one will be glad when this week is over, so I won’t have to think about that trade anymore. That trade sucked. Everything about it.

Just f–king sucked.