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L E’s Stories – “Sweetness” In Life And In Football – Our Tribute To Walter Payton

It was during the 1985 NFL Season that Da Bears fans became the most prolific in numbers, the most vociferious in activity and the largest consumers of draft beer to ever grace the “bleacher section” and bar at Madison Square Garden, The Sports Place at 302 E. 6th Street in downtown Austin…..which was a sports bar for the ages…..that utilized 2 x satellite dish and 2 x receivers per dish to bring live sporting events.  So, on any given Sunday during NFL season (or any other sports season for that matter), MSG The Sports Place could put 6 different NFL games on any of the 15 TVs that covered the entire 15,000 sq. ft facility….which could hold a capacity standing room only crowd of 1300 fans (+/-)….and as Da Bears from Chicago’s 15 – 1 season progressed, by the time they were 5 – 0 after beating the TB Buccaneers (38-28)….the NE Patriots (20-7)….the Minnesota Vikings (33-24)….the Washington Redskins (45-10)….and the TB Buccaneers (27-19) for the 2nd time….that is when the fans of Da Bears came out in droves an hour before game time against the San Francisco 49’ers to warm up for the game with the pre-game show activities and highlights.  It was amazing….I mean there were easily 700+ fans in MSG an hour before game time….and they all talked like, ate like and drank like Norm Peterson (actor George Wendt) on the popular TV comedy sitcom “Cheers”….who is best known for being a huge fan of Da Bears.  By the time Da Bears were 10 – 0…..after following the 49’ers win with victories over the Packer (23-7)….the Vikings (27-9)….the Packers (16-10)….the Lions (23-7)….and the Cowboys (44-0)…. that is when the pre-game crowd had grown to capacity….and one out of two of eveyone of those 1300 people had Sweetness # 34 jerseys on.  You would not believe how many Walter Payton stories our staff at MSG heard during that 1985 season….and you wouldn’t believe how much beer and how many hot dogs we sold when Da Bears were on TV that 1985 season. Just for an example, on January 26,1986, for Super Bowl XX Sunday with the New England Patriots Vs Chicago Bears, we emptied 80 kegs of beer and sold 1,000 hot dogs…as FYI, that is 1280 gallons of beer….and throughout that entire season, the loudest cheers that spontaneously erupted at Madison Square Garden, The Sports Place in Austin, TX, was when Walter Payton touched the ball….which was quite often in 1985.  So, folks, that year was when I became a huge Walter Payton fan….cuz his performance on the field that season brought more consumption of draft beer at The Garden than any other athlete in 1985….which results in giving me great pleasure to share this life story and video tribute of Sweetness # 34…..the one and only Walter Payton.                                                                                                                               

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Documentary – Walter Payton: “Beyond The Glory”                                                                        

 

Walter Payton was an American professional football player…..who was a running back for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL)….. and is regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time.  A nine-time Pro Bowl selectee, Payton is remembered as a prolific rusher…..while once holding records for career rushing yards, touchdowns, carries, yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards and many other categories.  He was also versatile…..as he retired with the most receptions by a non-receiver…..plus  he had eight career touchdown passes.  He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993…..the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame that same year….. and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.  He was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994…..and the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team in 2019.  Hall of Fame NFL player and coach Mike Ditka described Payton as the greatest football player he had ever seen—but was even greater as a human being.                                                                                            

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – ESPN Special – SportsCentury: Walter Payton                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

Payton began his football career in Mississippi….and went on to have an outstanding collegiate football career at Jackson State University…..where he was an All-American.  He started his professional career with the Chicago Bears in 1975….who selected him with the 1975 Draft’s 4th overall pick. Payton proceeded to win the 1977 AP NFL Most Valuable Player Award….and was a member of the 1985 Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears. He retired from football at the end of the 1987 season having rushed for at least 1,200 yards in 10 of his 13 seasons in the NFL…..with two of those three being lockout-shortened seasons.                                                                                                    

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – NFL Legends Special – Walter Payton: “The Greatest All-Around Back In NFL History”

 

 

After struggling with the rare liver disease primary sclerosing cholangitis for several months, Payton died from cholangiocarcinoma on November 1, 1999 at the age of 45.  His legacy includes being the namesake of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award…..the Walter Payton Award…..along with the heightened awareness of the need for organ donations.                                             

 

 

NFL – 1974 To 1985 – Special Career Highlights – Walter Payton: “Maybe The Greatest Runner Of All Time” – Set To The Song “I’m A Man”                                                                                                                                                             

 

Payton was one of three children born to Peter and Alyne Payton in Columbia, Mississippi. Payton’s year of birth is disputed; most sources at the time of his death stated he was born in 1954.  However, other sources have stated he was born in 1953.  His father was a factory worker who had played semi-professional baseball.  Payton was an active member of the Boy Scouts, Little League, and his local church.  At John J. Jefferson High School, Payton played drums in the marching band, participated in the track team and sang in the school choir. Outside of school, he played drums in jazz-rock groups.  His brother Eddie was on the football team, and Payton did not play partly to avoid competing with him. After Eddie graduated, the football coach asked Payton to try out for the team…..and he agreed on the condition that he be allowed to continue playing in the band.                                                               

 

 

NFL – 1954 To 1999 – ESPN Up Close special With Walter Payton (Part 1 of 2)

 

 

Once he began to play football, as a junior, he achieved instant success as a running back, running 65 yards for a touchdown on his first high school carry…..when at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), he was not especially large…..but his speed and strength made him one of the team’s featured players.  John J. Jefferson High School was integrated with neighboring Columbia High School that year…..as Payton and his teammates were upset that their head coach, Charles L. Boston, had become an assistant…..and Payton boycotted some of the spring practices in protest…..but returned to the team during the fall season.  He then earned statewide honors as a member of the  Mississippi all-state team….while leading Columbia to an unexpected 8–2 season.  His performance helped ease the local tensions surrounding desegregation.  Tommy Davis, Columbia’s football coach, claimed that he could always count on Payton when the team needed to score…..as Payton’s statistics proved that was no exaggeration…..while he scored in every game during his junior and senior years.  He was named to the all-conference team two years in a row…..while leading the Little Dixie Conference in scoring his senior year…..and making the all-state team.  In addition to excelling at football, Payton averaged 18 points a game for Columbia’s basketball team, leaped three-quarters of an inch short of 23 feet in the long jump, played baseball, and continued to drum in the school band.                                                      

 

 

NFL – 1954 To 1999 – ESPN Up Close special With Walter Payton (Part 2 of 2)

 

 

Even though Payton had established himself as one of Mississippi’s best running back prospects, he received no invitations from Southeastern Conference colleges…..so, after originally committing to Kansas State University, he decided to take his talents to the historically black school Jackson State University (MS)…..where his older brother Eddie played football.                                                                                                                                 

 

 

NCAA Football – 1971 To 1974 – Special Interview – Walter Payton Tells Us Why He Chose Jackson State

 

 

While attending Jackson State, Payton played alongside many future professional football players, including his roommate, Rickey Young, as well as Jerome Barkum, Robert Brazile, and Jackie Slater. As a member of the Jackson State Tigers, Payton rushed for 3,600 yards….while averaging 6.1 yards per carry…..and set the school record for career rushing touchdowns with 65.  In 1973, Payton had a school record 24 rushing touchdowns….while being named Black College Player of the Year…..when he won this award again in 1974….plus, he was selected for the All-American Team.  Payton graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications.

 

 

 

NCAA Football – 1971 To 1974 – Pocky Candy’s Special Highlights – Walter Payton’s Jackson State Highlights

 

 

He acquired the nickname “Sweetness” in college…..as the nickname’s origin is ambiguous….while it is variously said to have stemmed from his athletic grace, his personality or as an ironic description of his aggressive playing style. Payton was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996, and posthumously inducted into the inaugural class of the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

 

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Highlights – Walter Payton: “Nobody Does It Better”
 

 

On September 23, 1972, during Payton’s sophomore year, he set a then-best SWAC single-game scoring record by rushing for seven touchdowns (on runs of 6, 8, 2, 3, 1, 2, and 31 yards) and two 2-point conversions for 46 points as Jackson State beat Lane College, 72–0.  He also set a school record with 279 rushing yards in the game.                                                                                  

 

 

NCAAF & NFL – 1971 To 1987 – Special Tribute – “Black History In Jackson: Walter Payton”

 

 

The Chicago Bears drafted Walter Payton in the 1st round of the 1975 NFL Draft as the 4th overall pick…..after the Bears had endured several losing seasons after the retirement of the iconic Gale Sayers in 1972. Payton’s first game was not particularly successful…..when he was held to zero net rushing yards on eight attempts…..while his best performance of the season was the final game against the New Orleans Saints…..where he rushed for 134 yards on 20 carries. Payton finished the season with only 679 yards and seven touchdowns.  However, Payton led the league in yards per kickoff return.

 

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Highlights – Walter Payton: “Every Touchdown In His Hallowed Career”

 

 

Payton was eager to improve his performance. During the 1976 NFL season, Payton rushed for 1,390 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.  After the season, he was selected to play in the 1977 Pro Bowl…..where he was declared the Pro Bowl MVP. 

 

 

 

NFL – 1976/1977 – Chicago Bears Special – Walter Payton ’76/’77 Season Highlights     

 

                                      

The next year, he rushed for 1,852 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, becoming the league’s leading scorer for the season. He earned numerous awards that season, including the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers of America’s Most Valuable Player awards. A memorable game of the 1977 NFL season was against the Minnesota Vikings on November 20…..he rushed for a then-record 275 yards…..while breaking the previous record of 273 yards held by O. J. Simpson.  In that record-setting game against the Vikings, Payton was suffering with a 101-degree fever and intense flu…..while his longest run was for 58 yards….plus he caught one pass for 6 yards.  His record stood for 23 years until Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals ran for 278 yards on October 22, 2000…..then Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings set the current record of 296 rushing yards in 2007.  By the end of the decade, Payton had received additional accolades for his exploits as a blocker, receiver, emergency punter, and quarterback.

 

 

 

NFL – 1985 – Chicago Bears Special – “World Champions: The Story of the 1985 Chicago Bears” – Featuring RB Walter Payton + Bears Defense     

 

                                                                                                                              

Since the Bears struggled to assemble consecutive winning seasons…..while landing only two playoff berths since his arrival…..that is when the Bears  management decided to replace Neill Armstrong as Head Coach….and replaced him with Mike Ditka for the season that began in the Fall of 1982. Ditka was a tight end during the 1960’s and 1970’s…..who would also join the Pro Football Hall of Fame….when he led the Bears to a 3–6 strike-shortened record in 1982…..then he led the Bears to an 8–8 finish in 1983…..and to a 10–6 finish in 1984…..as Payton continued his success by rushing for more than 1,400 yards in both seasons…..then on September 19, 1984, Payton passed Franco Harris as the active leader in career rushing yards.  Three weeks later, on October 7, 1984, against the New Orleans Saints, Payton broke Jim Brown’s career rushing record of 12,312 yards.  In one 1984 game, Payton was pressed into service as the team’s 4th-string quarterback.

 

 

 

NFL – 1980 – ChiBears26 Special Highlight – Walter Payton: 1980 Season Highlights

 

 

In 1985, Payton rushed for more than 1,500 yards….which helped the Bears establish the league’s 2nd-best offense with the emergence of quarterback Jim McMahon.  The Bears’ 46 defense of that season would go on to become one of the best in NFL history…..while setting a record for fewest points allowed.  The truth be known, 1985 was the year that we here at ImaSportsphile became big fans of Sweetness and huge fans of Da Bears….as this was a result of Da Bears games being televised on TV almost every…. which was a direct result of the success they were having on the field in1985 …..for this Bear team was comprised of 1st Team All Pro’s like RB Sweetness Payton, LT Jimbo Covert, LDT Steve McMichael (whose University of Texas career I followed), LB “Samurai” Mike Singletary….and larger than life characters like QB Jim McMahon and RDT William “The Fridge” Perry.  The 1985 Bears were an unbelievably good football team.

 

 

 

NFL – 1986 – Super Bowl XX – Special Highlights – New England Patriots Vs Chicago Bears                                               

 

Payton performed with his teammates in the widely released 1985 music video The Super Bowl Shuffle…..after Da Bears went on to a 15–1 record that culminated in a 46–10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.  Although Payton’s offensive prowess had assisted the Bears throughout the 1985 season, he did not score any touchdowns in the postseason….and the New England Patriots prevented him from reaching the end zone in the Super Bowl.  According to quarterback Jim McMahon, he was targeted by two or three defenders on every play…..and others stated that Payton’s mere presence allowed others to shine, given that at least 2 people were targeting Payton on every play.  In a later interview, Ditka stated that one of his major regrets was Payton’s lack of a touchdown in the Super Bowl.                                                                 

 

 

NFL – 1986 – Chicago Bears Music Special – “The Super Bowl Shuffle”     

 

 

NFL – 1986 – Chicago Bears Music Special – “The Super Bowl Shuffle” – The Sequel                                                                    

                                                                  

Payton’s motto was “Never Die Easy”……which is also the title of his posthumously published autobiography.  Payton attributed this motto to Bob Hill, his coach at Jackson State.  In practice, this meant that Payton refused to deliberately run out-of-bounds….and always delivered some punishment to his tacklers before being forced off the field or forced down.                                          

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Documentary And Interviews – Sweetness 1987: Walter Payton Career Documentary and Interviews

 

 

One of Payton’s signature maneuvers was the “stutter-step”…..which was a high-stepping, irregularly paced run…..as he developed this as a way to distract his pursuers during long runs…..while saying that it startled them into thinking…..and gave him some advantage over players who were actually faster runners.  In his autobiography, he likened the stutter step to a kind of “option play”……for when he was stutter-stepping, defenders would have to commit to a pursuit angle based upon whether they thought he would accelerate after the stutter-step or cut….then he would read this angle …..and do the opposite of what the defender had committed to.

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Highlights – Walter Payton: “Great Runs And The Stutter Step”

 

 

Sweetness re-invented the practice of stiff-arming his tacklers…..which had gone out of favor among running backs in the 1970’s.  At times, he used his high school experience as a long jumper to leap over his opponents…..as he did when he landing on his head in the end zone to gain a touchdown in a game against the Buffalo Bills.  His running gait was somewhat unusual…..as his knees were minimally bent…..and the motion was largely powered from the hip…..which may have given his knees, a football player’s most vulnerable joints, some protection…..albeit he underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees in 1983…..which he referred to this procedure as an 11,000-yard checkup.

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Walter Payton Tribute Special – “The Stutter Step And The Stiff Arm” – Set To One Republic Music “If I Lose Myself”

 

 

After scoring touchdowns, Payton declined to celebrate…..but instead, he would often hand the ball to his teammates or the official.  He disapproved of the growing practice of touchdown celebrations…..and he preferred post-game antics such as rushing into the locker room and locking his teammates out in the cold while taking a long shower.  Although Payton would have won the respect of his peers and coaches by his running alone….he retired as the career leader in receptions for a running back with 492 for over 4,500 yards…..and still holds the career record for a running back with eight TD  passes.                                                                                                                              

 

 

NFL – 1993 – Pro Football Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony – Featuring Walter Payton’s Speech

 

 

Throughout his life, Payton had claimed his date of birth as July 25, 1954, a date which is cited in many of his early biographies.  However, while researching his biography of Payton, Sports Illustrateds Jeff Pearlman discovered his actual date of birth to be July 25, 1953. Pearlman found Payton’s earliest use of the later date during his pursuit of the Heisman Trophy at Jackson State.  Payton married Connie Norwood in 1976. During his rookie year, he resided in a home on the north side of Arlington Heights, Illinois. The couple had two children, Jarrett Payton (born 1980) and Brittney (born December 26, 1985) and resided in South Barrington, Illinois.  A Christian, Payton attended the non-denominational Destiny Church in Hoffman Estates, Illinois in the years after retiring from football.                                          

 

 

NFL – 2014 – The Walter Payton Achievement Award Special – Walter Payton Honored In Emotional ESPN Events Tribute

 

 

Payton was inducted as a laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois…..and awarded the Order of Lincoln by the governor of Illinois in 1987 in the area of sports.  In 1988, he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.

 

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Interview – Bears Coach Mike Ditka On Walter Payton

 

 

Payton pursued various business ventures in retirement….which included becoming co-owner of Dale Coyne Racing in the CART IndyCar World Series. He also drove in several Trans-Am Series events, including a 1993 race at Road America in which his car overturned and caught fire….from which he suffered burns but escaped serious injury.  In 1995, he and several partners purchased a Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad roundhouse in Aurora, Illinois…..when the property became known as “Walter Payton’s Roadhouse” …..while hosting a restaurant, brewery, banquet and meeting facility….and a museum.  In 1999, the property received an award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation…..and the beers brewed at the Roundhouse received awards in the 2000’s.

 

 

NFL & Talk Shows 1984 – Late Night With David Letterman – With Special Guest Walter Payton

 

 

Payton appeared in a 1987 episode of Saturday Night Live….while co-hosting with fellow football player Joe Montana.  That same year, he participated in Prince Edward of the United Kingdom’s charity television special The Grand Knockout Tournament.  In 1994, he made an appearance at the World Wrestling Federation’s Summer Slam event in the corner of wrestler Razor Ramon.

 

 

 

NFL & Comedy – 1987 – Saturday Night Live Skit – “Church Chat” – With Walter Payton + Joe Montana + The Church Lady (Dana Carvey)

 

 

NFL & Comedy – 1987 – Special – Walter Payton: “The Joker” – Featuring Payton As Michael Jackson On SNL

 

 

NFL & Comedy – 1987 – Saturday Night Live Skit – “The Liar” – With Walter Payton + Tommy Flanagan (John Lovitz)

 

 

In February 1999, Payton announced that he had a rare liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis, which may have led to his bile duct cancer  (cholangiocarcinoma).  He spent his final months as an advocate for organ transplants…..while appearing in many commercials to encourage others to donate organs….albeit by the time his 1st appeal was recorded, his illness was already too far advanced for transplantation to have been a viable option.  In April of that year, Payton made a final public appearance at a Chicago Cubs game with Mike Ditka…..where he threw the game’s “first pitch”.  Author Don Yaeger worked with him during the last weeks of his life to create his autobiography, Never Die Easy.

 

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – ChiBears26 Special Highlights – Walter Payton: “Bittersweet Symphony”

 

 

On November 1, 1999, Payton died from the complications that arose from his illness.  He was 45 years old.  During the same week, the NFL held special ceremonies in each game to commemorate his career and legacy.  In addition, the Chicago Bears wore special #34 patches on their jerseys to honor Payton.  His body was cremated after his death.  Speakers at Payton’s public funeral service, held in Soldier Field, included then National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue…..former teammate Dan Hampton….his widow Connie Payton…..and his children, Jarrett and Brittney.  Among the 1,000 mourners at the private service were John Madden, Illinois Governor George Ryan, Chicago’s mayor Richard M. Daley, former teammates Matt Suhey, Mike Singletary, Roland Harper and Jim McMahon, the Bears’ equipment manager and building superintendent and many other people representing a wide social, political, and economic spectrum.

 

 

 

NFL & News – 1999 – FOX News Chicago – Special – Walter Payton Funeral News Coverage – “A Tribute To Walter” – Part 1                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

 

NFL & News – 1999 – FOX News Chicago – Special – Walter Payton Funeral News Coverage – “A Tribute To Walter” – Part 2

 

 

Walter Payton’s legacy continues through the charitable Walter and Connie Payton Foundation.  His own appeals, and after his death, his foundation’s for greater awareness of the need for organ donations are widely credited with bringing national attention to the problem.  After his appeals, donations in Illinois skyrocketed….and the regional organ bank of Illinois was overwhelmed with calls.  In response, the City of Chicago inserted organ donation requests into city-vehicle-registration mailings in early 2000….and, by August 2000, 13,000 people had signed on to the program.  The foundation continues to run a program that Payton organized to donate toys to underprivileged children across the Chicago area each Christmas.  The family established the Walter Payton Cancer Fund in 2002.

 

 

 

NFL – 1999- Special – Eddie Payton’s Eulogy Of His Brother Walter Payton

 

 

Pro Football Focus founder Neil Hornsby in 2010 named Payton as the greatest player in NFL history.  Many modern NFL running backs have cited Payton as a source of inspiration. Emmitt Smith tearfully paid homage to Payton after breaking Payton’s rushing record…..and LaDainian Tomlinson, who set numerous records during the 2006 NFL season, named Payton as one of his foremost mentors and inspirations…..while Ahman Green, a former player for the Bears’ rival Green Bay Packers, is said to have idolized Payton, viewing the highlight film “Pure Payton” before each game.  Walter’s son, Jarrett Payton, was a running back for the Tennessee Titans, NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals, CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, and IFL’s Chicago Slaughter.  During his tenure at the University of Miami, Jarrett wore a # 34 jersey to honor his father’s memory.  In 2009, Jarrett married on March 4 (3/4), which was intentionally set to coincide with Payton’s jersey number.

 

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Career Highlights – Walter Payton: “NFL’s Superman” – Set To “Superman” Movie Music

 

 

The city of Chicago has honored Payton’s memory in several ways. In 1999, the city created a special city sticker that featured Payton. The profits from the sales of these stickers along with the special license plate created by the State of Illinois are given to support organ-donor programs across Illinois.  Also, the city named a magnet high school, Walter Payton College Prep, in his honor. In September 2007, the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center opened the Walter Payton Liver Center after a generous donation from Payton’s family…..who were pleased with the care he received there. Chicago Metra commuters have long been witness to a simple “#34 Sweetness”, painted on a bridge piling of the Air Line on the south end of the Chicago Union Station yards.  The State of Illinois has named U.S. Route 34 in Illinois as the Walter Payton Memorial Highway. The CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, which was set in Chicago, honored Payton in 2011 with “The Walter Payton Elementary School”.

 

 

 

NFL – 2010 – CBS Sports Special – “Walter Payton And Brian Piccolo: Two Of Chicago’s Favorite Sons”
                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

Until its sale to Two Brothers Brewing in 2011, Walter Payton’s Roundhouse continued to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the Aurora, Illinois site. A plaque now hangs on the building commemorating Payton. There are two athletic awards named after Payton. The NCAA gives the “Walter Payton Award” to the best offensive player from a Division I FCS (still often known by its former designation of Division I-AA) football team. The NFL hands out the “Walter Payton Man of the Year” award for player achievements in community service during a particular season. The wellness center at Jackson State University is also named in honor of him, known as “The Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center.”

 

 

 

NFL – 2014 – In Depth With Graham Benzinger – With Guest Emmitt Smith: “My Promise To Walter Payton”

 

 

The Chicago Bears honored Payton’s career and life on November 1, 2009, by airing a special tribute video during halftime.  The video consisted of highlight clips from Payton’s career…..along with interview segments from Mike Ditka, Virginia McCaskey, Richard Dent and many other members of the Bears organization…..as Payton’s wife, daughter, son and mother were present to watch the video…..which aired on Soldier Field’s Jumbotron.

 

 

NFL & News – 1999 – Chicago ABC 7 News Special – “Walter Payton Needs A Liver And Bears Win One For Walter”                                                                                                                                                                                           
 

 

After Payton’s death, Nickol Knoll Hill, an old landfill site turned into a golf course in Arlington Heights, Illinois, was renamed “Payton’s Hill”…..as there are two plaques on the hill to remind visitors of the hill that it was where Payton used to train in the 1970’s and 1980’s…..when Payton did his morning run at the hill every day.  Pictures and memorabilia of Payton cover the walls of the golf course clubhouse.  In September 2019, the Chicago Tribune named Payton the greatest Bears player of all time.

 

 

NFL – 2017 – Inspired Motivation Video Special – Barry Sanders + Walter Payton: “NEVER QUIT” – With Walter Bond Motivation Speech: “Fight For Your Life”

 

Payton was the NFL’s all-time leader in rushing yards and all-purpose yards prior to the 2002 NFL season…..when Emmitt Smith broke his record. Payton also held the rushing touchdown record until it was broken by Marcus Allen during the 1996 NFL season…..as he also held the single game rushing record until the 2000 NFL season, when it was broken by Corey Dillon. Sweetness #34 led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns in the 1977 NFL season. Also, he was among the top-ten players for rushing attempts during his entire career…..which included 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.  As of 2022, he is the NFL’s 2nd all-time leading rusher….and he is ranked 4th in rushing touchdowns scored.  Along with Frank Gifford, Payton threw 6 interceptions …..which is more than any other non-quarterback position in NFL history.  He also passed for eight touchdowns….which is second to Gifford (14) for non-quarterbacks.  Additionally, Sweetness had 170 consecutive regular season starts by a running back from December 7, 1975 to September 20, 1987…..as he had the most consecutive seasons leading he league in rushing attempts at 4 from 1976 to 1979….along with 108 career games with 100 or more yards from scrimmage.

 

 

NFL – 1975 To 1987 – Special Highlight – Walter “Sweetness” Payton’s Career

 

 

Before writing this tribute and story about the incredible football player that Walter Payton was…..I had a great love and respect for the man called “Sweetness”……however, after viewing the collection of videos presented in the video tribute to the man….I have come away having a firm conviction that he quite possibly deserves the moniker as the greatest football player who ever lived…..for he could do it all on the football field.  The quote my Sweetness that absolutely captured my ImaSportsphile heart and soul was his description of what God expects of all of us humans…..for He wants “our Good….our Better…..and our Best”…..and every moment in this man’s life….while on the field and in life….he took his good and make it better to do his best….and by golly, these videos prove that out.  I can sincerely say, it has been an honor to tell the story of Walter Payton and provide a video history of that story….cuz simply put, he never took more than he gave in football and in life.                                                                                                                

 

 

NFL – 1986 – A Nightingale / Conant Production – Walter Payton: “Winning In Life”

 

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