Bryant, a 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, was only the third player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to gain 1,000 yards or more in three consecutive seasons, despite undergoing knee surgery two seasons ago. In some ways, this becomes self-destructive because the other teams are not going to have that ability (to sign a number of high-priced players).". In a prepared statement earlier Wednesday morning, the University of Georgia said Walker was "technically ineligible" because he had agreed to a contract last Thursday with the Generals. "Dooley subsequently had conversations with Walker Tuesday night," the school statement said. Manton said Walker would not report to the Generals' training camp in Orlando, Fla., until Saturday at the earliest. Just last Friday, reacting to published reports, the 20-year-old star told a news conference here that he planned to return to the Bulldogs for his senior season, and still hoped to run as an amateur in the sprints at the 1984 Olympics. Reports had placed the contract as high as $16 million, but best estimates Wednesday night placed it at about $5 million, about $1 million a year plus a $1.5 million signing bonus. But Manton read a statement from Walker. Around the National Football League, there were differing views on the signings today. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle said earlier Wednesday that he didn't know the duration of Walker's contract. "I can only tell you what Walker's attorney told one of our people (executive director Don Weiss) today. Manton said Walker had "an oral promise" that he could change his mind if he so desired, and Walker exercised that option two hours later. But Manton confirmed Wednesday that Walker had signed a document last week when he met with Duncan and Generals Manager Jim Valek in Athens. "He's a millionaire right now," Jack Manton, Walker's agent, said outside Walker's off-campus apartment in Athens. Herschel Walker signed pro football's richest contract ever Wednesday, jumping from his junior year at the University of Georgia to the New Jersey Generals of the fledgling United States Football League. "In the long run, I think all these players will come back to the NFL . Walker wanted to play in the New York area, Simmons said. It had been reported that Bryant would earn about $300,000 per year on a three-year contract. "Herschel has done more for professional football players than all the unions striking and debating that's ever taken place," said Manton. Jim Kensil, president of the Jets, said he was concerned that all players "would believe that just because this team (the Generals) paid this money that they would think that kind of money is available and it isn't.". "Playing defense was much more demanding," he added. ", Manton, however, said there was no doubt he could have gotten Walker into a supplementary draft with the NFL but added, "I don't think the Baltimore Colts (who have the NFL's first draft pick) would have paid half of Herschel's contract nor any other team in the NFL. Having been primarily a defensive lineman in college,, Eatman said playing in the USFL immediately would give him a chance to develop his offensive techniques. "Walker is not eligible for the Olympics . Beathard said he was not surprised by the signings. A world-class sprinter, Walker also had expressed a desire to compete in the 1984 Olympic Games. He had and, on Wednesday, was forced to cut his collegiate career to three years. "I wish to apologize to Coach (Vince) Dooley, the University of Georgia and all the people that have been my loyal friends. Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. Manton said he checked into the financial status of Generals owner J. Walter Duncan and discovered that he could fulfill the contract even if the USFL should fold. "It appears that each (USFL) club is going to make a shot at one player," Schramm said in a telephone interview. He gained 5,259 yards in his three seasons at Georgia, only 823 less than Tony Dorsett's four-year NCAA record. ", Some feared that future would be bleak.

Now, as a professional, the Olympics are out for Walker, and college coaches warned Wednesday that the signing of the talented junior by the USFL could lead to a war between the colleges and the new league. Walker's signing followed five days of controversy which prompted an investigation by the NCAA into the reports that he had signed with the USFL team last Thursday in violation of the NCAA's rules on eligibility. ", He continued: "Their success isn't going to depend on this type of acquisition. Walker passed up a chance to become college football's all-time rusher. "Both agreed Walker's actions would cause him to be ineligible on two potential points: the negotiation of an agreement and the involvement of Walker's attorney in the matter. He ran for 1,752 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in winning the Heisman last season. kelly jim All rights reserved. "He told me to go get the contract, and it came back, but he had a change of heart. The USFL's initial season begins March 6. "It's obvious from a purely financial standpoint that competing with the NFL squadwise would be self-destructive because there is not the money available in TV at that time of year. ", "For over 50 years, the NFL has had rules pertaining to eligibility and the draft that we believe to be in the best interests of colleges, players and professional football," the spokesman said. "Our league not being able to push up the draft date (from late April) is looking like a bigger mistake all the time," said Bobby Beathard, general manager of the Washington Redskins. "No one realizes more than I that I am a human being. . Walker was whisked away from his Athens apartment while Manton held a news conference, and Manton said the tailback did not wish to speak to the media. Of the players they've signed, I don't think any are household words nationally.". Historically, Schramm said, "You have problems when there is a great variance in players' salary . offense I've never seen anything like it in a dozen years in pro sports.". ", "This is indeed a sad day for Georgia," said Dooley, who was in Colorado for a speaking engagement. . "The USFL has just slammed the door in our face, and it hurts," said Charlie McClendon, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. "Once a pro, always a pro," said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Bob Paul. But he said a source in Philadelphia had told him the figures were closer to the original estimates than Bryant's agent contended. ", Meanwhile, Dooley, the Georgia athletic director in addition to serving as football coach, said, "He (Walker) made a mistake and he admits that. The university's statement Wednesday said information about Walker's agreement with the Generals was brought to Dooley's attention Tuesday afternoon by assistant football coach Mike Cavan, who had met on the Georgia campus with Vanek and USFL attorney Steve Earhart. "His contract will be the guideline for the future. An NFL spokesman said that Manton approached the NFL overnight "and asked if we were interested in signing Herschel and placing him in a franchise city of his choice. After warning Manton of the consequences regarding Walker's college eligibility, Walker's attorney indicated he wanted to forge ahead with negotiations, Simmons said. But his agent, Perry Deering, said today that Bryant signed for four years with a contract value closer to $2 million, making him the highest-paid USFL player. .

"I think the agent inflated them a bit," Beathard said. North Carolina running back Kelvin Bryant and UCLA offensive tackle Irv Eatman, two of last season's top college players, signed multiyear contracts with the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League today. USFL commissioner Chet Simmons said Manton first approached him about Walker going pro in early January. ". Simmons said both the league and the Generals believed Walker was ineligible even before the original signing because he had hired an agent who came to the USFL team for the purpose of negotiating a contract. While he could not disclose details of the contract, Manton said various news media reports were close. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on. The Heisman Trophy-winning tailback, a three-time All-America, signed a three-year pact worth an estimated $5 million just hours after university officials declared him ineligible to finish his college career.

"It's the highest contract ever in pro football history by far.". The top annual salaries in the NFL are believed to be $750,000 for Cleveland linebacker Tom Cousineau and $700,000 for Chicago running back Walter Payton. Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker. In his three years at Georgia, Walker frequently had been the subject of speculation about his future in professional football, but had often said he wished to complete his education and planned to remain at Georgia. Even through this, when it became apparent Herschel had signed something in violation of NCAA rules, I guaranteed him as a lawyer, he would win his appeal if he wanted to fight it and stay at Georgia," said Manton. . "Whether that will gain them recognition, I don't know. As Walker's story unraveled Wednesday, it became apparent that New Jersey had not been Walker's only option. Simmons, at a news conference in Orlando, promised that Walker's signing was not a precursor to a wholesale raid on collegians, calling it a "special circumstance.". "We'll see you in three years,"' Rozelle said. Eatman is believed to have been given a four-year deal involving close to $1 million. . "Herschel Walker has meant so much to our program the past three years.". "We have no intention of waiving them for Herschel Walker. There also were fears in the established National Football League that the rich contract Walker signed could lead to an escalation of salaries through pro football, such as occurred when Joe Namath signed with the New York Jets of the old American Football League in 1965. The success will depend first on the level of competition, the evenness of competition . "After discussions with his parents, Walker has decided it would be in his best interest to pursue a professional football career at this time.". . "In denying I signed a contract (last week), I made a mistake," Walker said in the statement. 2022 It's still a good draft but it is looking less attractive all the time.". Manton said, however, that Walker made the decision 10 days ago to turn professional. Other USFL first-round draft choices who have chosen the new league include running back Craig James of SMU, signed by Washington; running back Tim Spencer of Ohio State, signed by Chicago, and quarterback Reggie Collier of Southern Mississippi, signed by Birmingham. However, that ended with his USFL signing. Asked if the $16.5 million figure was accurate, he replied, "It could be more, it could be less.". At a news conference on Friday, he said there had been no actual offer, adding, "I am planning to return to Georgia for my fourth year.". Tex Schramm, president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, said the large contracts of Bryant and a few others could hurt the development of the USFL. . General vice president of business affairs Charles Theokas said Walker's arrival in the USFL would "absolutely have a huge, huge impact on the credibility of the franchise," much as the signing of Namath out of Alabama gave instant credibility to the American Football League. Now it's time for him to look ahead. I ask for your forgiveness and ask God for his forgiveness," Walker said. He said he didn't think he was taking a gamble by choosing the USFL over the NFL because his long-term contract is guaranteed. Last week, Walker denied the reports. He's had an early education in the hard reality of the business profession. . "I came here to visit, was pleased with the organization and liked the idea of playing in the spring," Bryant said. The Stars also announced the signing of wide receiver Scott Fitzkee, who played out his option with the National Football League's San Diego Chargers, and Roger Jackson, a safety on Penn State's 1982 national collegiate championship team.

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