Herschel Walker Has a History of Standing Up For Violent Men

The Georgia Senate candidate said OJ Simpson should mentor kids.

Republican senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks to a crowd outside a gun shop in Smyrna, Georgia on November 3, 2022.Robin Rayne/ZUMA Press Wire

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Among the most-discussed aspects of Herschel Walker’s campaign for the US Senate seat in Georgia are the allegations he had episodes of violence and threatening to commit violence—allegations he later dismissed as the side effects of a mental illness known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, from which he now claims he is “healed.” 

Walker’s ex-wife Cindy Grossman, for example, said in 2008 that Walker once held a gun to her head and threatened to “blow [her] brains out.” This allegation resurfaced during Walker’s campaign against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, which will now conclude in a runoff on December 6. Voters have also learned that on a separate occasion, Grossman’s sister claimed in an affidavit that Walker told her he was going to shoot Grossman and her new boyfriend.

Christian Walker, Walker and Grossman’s only son, condemned the trend of athletes inflicting or threatening violence—a trend in which his father has allegedly participated. He called it America’s “pandemic of professional athletes abusing women, children, and animals” in a 2021 tweet.

But Walker hasn’t just been accused of violence. He’s also defended other athletes who have inflicted it. For instance, he bragged about remaining in contact with a man who allegedly choked a woman and threw her onto a couch with loaded assault weapons. He also opposed the NFL’s suspension of two men accused of abuse—one of whom was videotaped striking a woman unconscious in an elevator; another was charged with felony child abuse for spanking his toddler with a switch. 

Here are some of the details:  

“[W]e shouldn’t kick these guys out because they belong in the League.” 

In 2014, then-Ravens running back Ray Rice was filmed on a closed-circuit video hitting his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, until she was apparently unconscious, and then dragging her out of an elevator at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. He was cut from the Ravens and later received an indefinite suspension from the NFL for the incident.

The same year, then-Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faced felony child abuse charges over an incident in which police said he used a wooden switch on his four-year-old son, resulting in injuries to his back, thighs, and one of his testicles. Peterson ultimately pleaded no contest to a reduced charge; he faced a temporary suspension from the Vikings.

In both cases, Walker sided with the football players. 

On a 2015 appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Walker said he was “upset” with the NFL for the “Ray Rice situation, the Adrian Peterson situation.” Walker continued, “When those guys got in trouble, the NFL sort of turned their backs on them…we [shouldn’t] kick these guys out, because they belong in the League.”

“My hat is off to him.”

Also in 2014, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. “[Hardy] unlawfully and willingly did assault [redacted], a female person, by GRABBING VICTIM AND THROWING TO THE FLOOR, THROWING INTO A BATHTUB, SLAMMING HER AGAINST A FUTON, AND STRANGLING HER,” a police officer wrote in the arrest warrant (emphasis theirs). In a motion for a protective order, the victim wrote that Hardy “choked me with both hands around my throat while I was lying on the floor. Hardy picked me up over his head and threw me onto a couch covered in assault rifles and/or shotguns. I landed on those weapons. Hardy bragged that all of those assault rifles were loaded.”

Hardy was found guilty of assault, but because his accuser stopped participating in Hardy’s appeal, the case was dismissed and his charges were eventually expunged.

Eventually, Hardy began fighting mixed martial arts, as Walker also did, and Walker has stayed in touch with the embattled former football player. “I have kept up with Greg [Hardy]. I’m happy to see football players that decide to do that. My hat is off to him,” Walker said on UFC Unfiltered in October 2021.

Mentoring a Bears’ player who was accused of abusing women eight times

In a 2012 Chicago Tribune story about the Bears’ new receiver, Brandon Marshall, Walker was named as a key “mentor” to Marshall. Marshall was accused at least eight times of violence against multiple women between 2006 and 2014. On one occasion, police arrived at Marshall’s home to find Marshall and his fiancée physically fighting each other on the sidewalk. (Both were charged with disorderly conduct, but they did not testify against each other, so the charges were dismissed.)

“I think he’s paid his dues… I’d like to see him do something productive.”

Shortly before acquitted murder suspect OJ Simpson was released from prison in 2017 for a 2008 conviction for armed robbery, Walker told TMZ, “I think he’s paid his dues… I’d like to see him do something productive.”

One suggestion Walker had for Simpson was for him to “mentor some of these young kids that are coming up in this athletic world, to realize that life is more than sports.”

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2022 demands.

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