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The Herschel Walker trade lives on as the biggest trade in NFL history due to the fact that eighteen players changed hands. It took place in October of 1989 and involved the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. Before the trade deadline (before the sixth game of the season), the Cowboys had not won a game that season, and the rookie head coach Jimmy Johnson believed that a full rebuild of the team was necessary, so he came up with a solution to end their losing streak and that idea was to trade Herschel Walker. He admitted that the Cowboys were not a very good team and that a drastic move would be the only thing that could kickstart their season and that would be a blockbuster trade. He thought, for a short time, about trading Michael Irvin to the Raiders, but was talked out of it by Al Davis.
The Cowboys had been notified by many interested teams when they were informed of the Cowboys’s intention to trade away a huge player like Herschel Walker. The Giants were interested, however, the trade would not be favorable for Dallas as both of the teams played in the NFC East. The Falcons also showed some interest, but withdrew because they did not know what Herschel would demand later on. At first, it looked as though the Browns would get Walker, as they put it quite a hefty offer.
The Browns offered the Cowboys three second round draft picks, two first round draft picks, and a player. The Cowboys liked the offer, but they wanted more teams to be involved in the talks to try and get more for Walker; they quickly got on the phone to other franchises to get the word out about the fact that Walker was going to be traded. Mike Lynn, from the Minnesota Vikings, feeling that Walker would greatly increase their chances to get to get to the Super Bowl, he contacted Johnson to let him know that he wanted to trade for Walker, and that resulted in negotiations picking up. The Cowboys sweetened the pot for Herschel by giving him an exit bonus of $1.25 million.
The Cowboys managed to get six of Minnesota’s draft picks over the next few drafts; with a couple of the picks, the Cowboys selected Darren Woodson and Emmitt Smith that would help them win some Super Bowls. Dallas used some of the other picks they acquired picks the Vikings gave them to draft Kevin Smith, Dixon Edwards, and Alexander Wright. Some of the picks were used by Jimmy Johnson in subsequent trades. They would acquire the 1991’s first overall pick, which led to the drafting of Russell Maryland (who won two national championships with University of Miami (FL) and won three Super Bowls while playing for the Cowboys).
After the smoke had cleared, all the players that Dallas had gotten from the trade with the Vikings was an enormous contribution to what would become Dallas’s dynasty, and is still considered to this day to be one of the biggest lopsided trades NFL history, if not of sports history. Some of the players that the Cowboys got in return from Minnesota were defensive players Isiac Holt, Jesse Solomon, Alex Stewart, and David Howard, as well as some players that Dallas would later trade away for many reasons.
Emmitt Smith is the best running back in NFL history. Smith has the most rushing yards in NFL history with 18,355 yards, and has the second most touchdowns all-time with 175. His 21,000 total yards puts him in some rarefied air, only three other people have accomplished. He has scored over 1,000 points in his career, something only one other person has done.
Darren Woodson was a pro bowler five times, and All-Pro four times, and has the most tackles in Cowboys’s history with 1,350 career tackles.
Walker played parts of three seasons for the Vikings and never rushed for 1,000 rushing yards, due to the coach not giving him the ball as much as he did in Dallas. He went on to play for the Eagles (where he would surpass 1,000 rushing yards again, for only the second time in his career) and then the Giants before re-joining the Cowboys where he would retire with them in 1997. He played in the NFL for a total of eleven seasons, and in the USFL for three seasons.