Herschel Walker, an NFL great and longtime friend of President Trump, spoke at the Republican National Convention on Monday night because, he said, he wanted to give people a picture of who the president really is.
Walker, who delivered his speech from his home near Dallas, said that he considers it a “personal insult” when critics accuse Trump of racism.
The following day, he talked about paying a price for a friendship with Trump.
“Losing friends has been a big cost,” Walker said. “I lost some friends, and that’s what’s so strange about it. How could, in a country like America, you disagree with someone that you now want to injure that person or you just don’t want to talk to them no more? Where did it get that you become a country like that?”
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Walker, who has voiced his opinion on many topics in the political world, argued that Trump’s public opposition to national anthem protests in professional sports leagues such as the NFL and NBA did not lessen his commitment to social justice issues.
“Just because someone loves and respects the flag, our National Anthem, and our country doesn’t mean they don’t care about social justice. I care about all of those things, and so does Donald Trump,” Walker said. “He shows how much he cares about social justice and the Black community through his actions. And his actions speak louder than any stickers or slogans on a jersey.”
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The debate of anthem protests reignited last May after the death of George Floyd in police custody prompted a nationwide movement against racial injustice. The NBA allowed players to wear social justice phrases on the backs of their jerseys to raise awareness, while the NFL reportedly plans to allow players to wear decals on their helmets to honor victims of systemic racism.
Walker said he developed a “deep, personal friendship” with Trump dating back to 1984, when the president purchased the New Jersey Generals of the now-defunct United States Football League. The former Heisman Trophy winner described Trump as a committed man with strict attention to detail in his business dealings.
Walker said it “hurts my soul” when critics accuse the president of racism.
“People who think that don’t know what they are talking about. Growing up in the Deep South, I have seen racism up close. I know what it is. And it isn’t Donald Trump,” Walker said.
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Trump was a key figure in the USFL’s attempt to challenge the NFL’s dominance in the mid-80s. The league folded in 1986 after just three seasons.
Walker spent three seasons with the Generals before joining the NFL. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection while playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.
Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.