So who is the real Herschel Walker?

Trying to get inside the football player-turned-politician’s mind requires a psychological insight few of us possess.

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Herschel Walker rallies supporters as Georgia Senate race goes to a runoff.

Former NFL running back Herschel Walker, now a U.S. Senate candidate, faces a runoff election Dec. 6 against incumbent Raphael Warnock in Georgia.

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Herschel Walker was one of the nicest athletes I’d ever met.

He recently had joined the Cowboys, and I was visiting him at his rented home in Dallas while he and wife Cindy waited for their four-bedroom house to be built in suburban Las Colinas.

Walker was open and engaging in a way few people are, let alone star running backs in a vicious sport.

Tony Dorsett, the Cowboys’ veteran running back, wasn’t thrilled about the addition of Walker because the Cowboys didn’t run a double-tailback set. That meant if Herschel carried the ball, Tony didn’t.

But Dorsett was 32 and Walker 24, and everybody knows the NFL math.

‘‘I am so scared,’’ Dorsett told me. ‘‘Is this how it ends?’’

Walker, the 6-1, 225-pound slab of sinew and muscle, the man who had rushed for 2,411 yards the previous year for the U.S. Football League’s New Jersey Generals — more yards than anyone ever has, in any league — was so outgoing and cheerful that he could have been a kindly neighbor strolling by for a chat.

‘‘I just love people,’’ he said. ‘‘Really, I do.’’

As we talked, however, unusual things came out.

He spoke in the third person at times, saying that ‘‘Herschel’’ did this or that or that people thought this or that of ‘‘Herschel.’’

He was so spectacularly muscular that I needed to know what his training secret was. It turns out it was a lot of sit-ups and push-ups during TV commercials.

And his diet? He hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, he said.

‘‘I used to eat a lot of junk food,’’ he said. ‘‘But now, really, I don’t eat much at all.’’

And sleep? He hardly needed it. Four to 4½ hours a night was plenty. After a recent game against the Rams, he came home and didn’t sleep at all.

In so many ways, he was an extraordinary human being. Consider that he had his wisdom teeth pulled without a painkiller because he didn’t see the need for it. And all the Cowboys, including Dorsett, liked him, even if some were a bit befuddled by his persona. Cowboys personnel chief Gil Brandt said, ‘‘Even his locker is like a little old lady keeping her auto — perfect order.’’

But there was more going on than people knew.

In 2008, Walker came out with a book explaining he has dissociative identity disorder, a very rare mental illness commonly referred to as having ‘‘multiple personalities,’’ usually caused by past sexual or physical abuse. Walker’s personas thought and acted differently, his therapist said, and he had met them during sessions.

In 2005, his wife Cindy got a restraining order against the one that put a gun to her head and said he was going to kill her.

‘‘There was also the very sweet, lovable [personality],’’ she said. ‘‘That’s the one he told me I married. He told me I didn’t marry Herschel.’’

Walker has said he is ‘‘healed,’’ but according to the Cleveland Clinic’s information about the disorder, ‘‘There is no cure for DID.’’

The reason this backstory is of importance now is that Walker, a Republican, is in a runoff election Dec. 6 in Georgia with incumbent Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Neither surpassed the required 50% threshold in the neck-and-neck election last week, so the runoff is necessary.

Walker’s political credentials seem to be mainly that he won the 1982 Heisman Trophy while at the University of Georgia, making everybody in the Peach State happy.

He has said some startling, exaggerated and bizarre things during his campaign. If man is descended from monkeys, ‘‘Why are there still apes?’’ is one of them. Another is, ‘‘I worked in law enforcement.’’ Not true. As for the environment, ‘‘Don’t we have enough trees around here?’’

Though he’s against abortion and ‘‘fatherless homes,’’ he allegedly paid for a girlfriend’s abortion, and it recently was revealed he has four children with different women.

Guess who owned the Generals when Walker was there? Donald Trump. Guess who has promoted Walker’s campaign? Trump.

This is a critical election because right now Democrats have 50 Senate seats and Republicans 49, and majority is all. (Of course, in the event of a tie vote in the Senate, the vice president — Kamala Harris — would cast the deciding vote.)

There have been famous football players who did well in government service, such as former Supreme Court Justice Byron ‘‘Whizzer’’ White and longtime U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp. There is also former Bears kicker Bob Thomas, who recently retired as an Illinois Supreme Court justice.

Wouldn’t it be something if Herschel Walker — all of him — joined this portrait?

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