On Oct. 12, 1989, the Vikings did something that they thought would push them over the edge and finally help the franchise win a Super Bowl. Instead … well, their trade with Dallas for running back Herschel Walker did not do that. Instead, it became one of the most lopsided swaps in sports history and even the subject of a documentary. But if Vikings fans remember it one way, Walker remembers it quite differently. While in the Twin Cities this past week on his motorcycle as part of NASCAR legend Kyle Petty's Charity Ride Across America, Walker chatted with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand:
Q How many years have you been doing this ride?
A This is my 12th year. I started 12 years ago, and I thought it was crazy to ride across America. I got a chance to ride halfway. I got a chance to visit Victory Junction, and it freaked me out with how much they were doing to help out. To have the Petty family do something like this for kids with chronic illness, it's a privilege to be able to do that.
Q Is this the first time the ride has been through Minnesota?
A I know since I've been on it this is the first time. I know because I was excited that it was coming to Minnesota. If you read anything I've ever said, I think Minnesota is one of the greatest places I've ever lived in my life. The people, the area. I tell people I love Minnesota. It's an absolutely incredible place.
Q Going back to your playing days here — what do you remember about the circumstances that brought you here and the trade?
A What's so funny is that I don't think too much about the trade. I think what I remember about Minneapolis is how nice people treated me. I tell everyone about Byerlys. I used to go to Byerlys a lot and get that wild rice soup. I think I mentioned that in an article once and they sent me a recipe book that had the wild rice soup in it.
Q You don't have control over where you get traded, but history has judged the trade harshly. Is that hard at all when you think about it in retrospect?
A Not at all. It made me a better player. I had a chance to play with some very good players here. I still think about Scott Studwell, Keith Millard, Chris Doleman.
Q So when people talk about the Herschel Walker trade, you think, "Well, it brought me to Minnesota"?
A I'd say the Herschel Walker trade was an experience for me. It gave me an opportunity to do a lot of different things. I think it made me a better player and a better person. One thing I always say is that if I ever run for president, I hope I can carry the state of Minnesota because the people here were absolutely incredible.
Q Speaking of the presidency, when you played in the USFL for New Jersey at the start of your career, wasn't Donald Trump the owner of the team?
A Donald and I still get along well. We still talk. We've been longtime friends since 1983. Our families get together, and we still do business a lot in the food business with him and the kids. Ivanka and little Don and I work together a great deal. ... I was excited about it when he became president because we needed a change. It's sad that we've become a country that's so divided, which has nothing to do with Donald. People have to remember that.