From the Prologue of Breaking Free
- Created on June 6th, 2008
- By Herschel Walker
The date was February 24, 2001. In exactly seven days, I was going to turn thirty-nine years old. Hard to believe that time had passed so quickly. I'd enjoyed a stellar college career, won the Heisman Trophy, finished up my professional days as the number two player in all-purpose yardage (number one if you considered, which the NFL didn't, my yards earned in the USFL), represented my country in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, been paid millions of dollars for playing a game, and earned millions more from endorsement deals. I'd been able to help family and friends, met with presidents and business leaders, was married to the only woman I'd ever loved, had a son I adored. Considering all that, what was about to happen made little sense to me then, and only now can I understand my actions at all.
[My friend Robert Jones’ wife] Natalie had called to let me know that a car that I'd ordered from a man in Philadelphia had arrived. I'd originally asked that it be delivered to Robert's house because I was scheduled to be out of town. Well, my trip had come and gone, and still no car had been delivered. Six days had passed, and this man had not honored our agreement. I'd spent three days sitting at home waiting to hear from him, expecting that he'd be honorable enough to at least keep me posted on the status of the delivery. And now this? He doesn't even return my calls, but instead calls my friend's house, completely ignoring my message that it should now be delivered straight to me? Was that any way to do business? Did this guy think he could get away with not keeping his word? I couldn't let him get away with that.
I could feel my jaw pulsing and my teeth grinding as I sped down Church Road toward Robert's house. I wondered for a moment if my Beretta pistol was still in the glove compartment. I'd been a licensed and registered handgun owner for years, had permits to carry a concealed weapon, and had even gone to the FBI academy during two off-seasons to do some training. I'd majored in criminal justice in college and had dreamed of serving in the FBI. The logical side of me knew that what I was thinking of doing to this man -- murdering him for messing up my schedule -- wasn't a viable alternative. But another side of me was so angry that all I could think was how satisfying it would feel to step out of the car, pull out the gun, slip off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. It would be no different from sighting on the targets I'd fired at for years -- except for the visceral enjoyment I'd get from seeing the small entry wound and the spray of brain tissue and blood -- like a Fourth of July firework -- exploding behind him.
Every few seconds, I'd hear a voice telling me, "No, Herschel, that's wrong. You can't shoot a man down in cold blood over this." Over that voice I'd hear another urging me on: "You've got to take care of business. This guy has done you wrong. You can't let him get away with that. Kill him." Over and over these two voices were shouting at me, each one pleading with me. As I made the turn south on the four-lane highway that would take me to the subdivision where Robert and Natalie lived, I began to pray to God. For even longer than I'd been doing my daily routine of exercises, I'd been praying. As a born-again Christian, I believe God actively and directly influences me to action. I asked that He help stop me from what I was about to do.
"Lord, Jesus, I do not want to kill this man. Please, dear God, somehow show me what it is that I should do."
I stopped the car and slammed the shifter into park. As I was reaching for the glove compartment to check for my gun, I could see through the web of steel that made up the carriage of the auto transport trailer to the back window of the semi's cab. "SMILE. JESUS LOVES YOU" read the sticker plastered there.
I had my answer. I sat in the car for a few minutes, head in my hands, giving thanks to God. The voices quieted and then fell silent. All I could hear was the ticking of my turn signal. Lord knows how long it had been on, but I knew that I needed to take a new direction in my life.
The Herschel Walker who had driven to that house with murder in his heart and mind was not the Herschel Walker I had been for most of life. Something was clearly wrong with me, and I had to figure out what it was. And quickly.
All my life I've faced life's battles head-on and at great speed. I was about to embark on a challenge I'd never thought I'd have to face, but one that I was determined to win. For a while then, and at various periods of my life, I felt like I was losing control, spiraling downward, acting out in ways I'd never thought possible. I'd been wondering if I needed professional help in answering this question: "Doctor, am I crazy?"
Copyright © 2008 by Herschel Walker