Own goal is a term used in European soccer for an unforced error, a mistake that is solely your fault. Scoring points for the other team is an example.

Well, Georgia Republican US Senate nominee and former NFL star Herschel Walker, or his campaign team, is guilty of an own goal, as it has been revealed over the past week that this conservative candidate, who has regularly spoken on family values has unacknowledged children in his background.

Now, to be fair, most of his kids have been financially provided for by Walker. So it’s not really the deadbeat dad thing. What rankles is the aggressive talk by the candidate on the place of the family in American life when he all but personally ignored his own kids.

However, those who also talk loudest about family values still praise Walker and blame the messenger. Politico, “NASHVILLE — Herschel Walker received resounding applause from evangelical Christian activists on Saturday, following revelations he had fathered three children he had not previously discussed publicly.

The half-full room of conference-goers at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual gathering in Nashville went wild for Walker — perhaps the most high-profile Republican Senate candidate this cycle running in one of the most contested races.

In an onstage interview with Walker, Faith & Freedom founder Ralph Reed addressed the recent barrage of news stories by saying ‘Democrats and the media’ were ‘firing artillery’ at the candidate. Walker, in turn, said he loves and has never ‘denied’ any of his children, before accusing unnamed forces of trying to mislead his family members.

‘They didn’t do anything but make me want to fight harder, because I’m tired of people misleading the American people,’ Walker said. ‘I’m tired of people misleading my family.’

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The former Heisman winner stands accused of hiding from the public three children that he had with multiple women outside of marriage. And both Walker and his oldest son, Christian Walker, have been critical of absent fathers. It is reported that at least one of the mothers of Walker’s unacknowledged children had to take legal action to receive child support payments.”

People expect politicians to lie. It’s part of the trade. But what still gets to voters is hypocrisy. Candidates can pay a serious price for that. At least the campaign got it out relatively early so they can try to spin it with an aggressive forward defense casting Walker as the victim of a press and Democrat plot. But that dog won’t hunt.

While Democrats and their usual media allies are indeed amused at Walker’s perceived plight, no one put a gun to his head making him less transparent about the place of those kids in his life. This while he was banging on about family values.

This own goal did not have to happen. Walker should have been up front about it from the beginning of his campaign and on his own terms. Then the story could have been spun about a dad and his extended family, not about a dad who ignores his kids.

Fortunately, Walker is still a solid bet for November and his opponent has some family issues as well. Nevertheless, a potential Republican senate is hanging by a thread. Given that, Walker and his campaign team should have played it smarter than this. Much smarter than this.