Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Herschel Walker in Vladivostok, Tebow on Mt. Rushmore

Scott Michaux, of the Augusta Chronicle, has an interesting perspective on the importance and fame of Herschel Walker, and Tim Tebow's growing place in football history too.

Vladivostok, Russia, is a little outside football recruiting territory, even for the Southeastern Conference.

It was in Vladivostok, however, that I purchased this beautiful children's atlas. Every word in the book is written in Russian Cyrillic. It is practically the size of a coffee table and filled with cartoonish pictures depicting icons typical of whatever region.

There are oil derricks all over the Middle East. There's an Eiffel Tower in Paris. A bagpiper standing on Scotland. Skyscrapers near New York. A teepee and cowboy in the American west.

Stepping out from what would be the Georgia-Florida state line and covering most of the Southeast United States is a football player. The ball is tucked under his arm. His helmet is red. His jersey number is No. 34.

Even in Siberia, the image of American football and the American South is Herschel Walker.

But this book was bought seven years ago. You can't help but wonder if it was reprinted today, would the helmet be orange and the jersey be No. 15?

There is an argument to be made whether Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has eclipsed Herschel Walker as perhaps the greatest collegiate football player in history. It's pretty safe to say that if you were carving college football's Mount Rushmore (which oddly didn't make the cut over cows and a pig to cover the Dakotas in my Russian atlas), Herschel and Tebow would both be in the picture.

"I think they are both legends," said Georgia coach Mark Richt, a collegiate peer of Walker and a frustrated tactician against Tebow. "One is still playing and the other one of course hasn't played in quite some time. There is no question that Tim Tebow has made his mark on Florida football, on Southeastern Conference football and on the entire nation. He'll be one of those guys who will be remembered as long as people care about college football. Herschel is the same way."


And what does Tebow think of his being compared to Herschel Walker?


"It has been an honor to even be mentioned with Herschel," said Tebow on Monday of the fellow legend he met at the Heisman Trophy presentation last year. "It is very humbling and I'm sure when I sit back and think about it I'll realize how cool it is. To be able to break the record against Georgia would be extra-special."


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