Thirteen seasons with the Chicago Bears brought good luck to running back Walter “Sweetness” Payton. Drafted fourth overall in 1975, the stutter-stepping All-American from Jackson State University broke Jim Brown’s career rushing record in 1984, and ended his career as the NFL’s leader in rushing yards—Emmitt Smith subsequently broke Payton’s record in 2002.
After retiring at the end of the 1987 season, Payton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Well respected both in and out of football circles, Payton should have had a long and rich post-football career, but his time was cut short when he died in 1999 from cancer caused by a rare liver disease.
In his honor, the city of Chicago added organ-donor information to its vehicle registration mailings, a cause that Payton had championed in the last months of his brief but brilliant life.
Payton’s 1976 Topps rookie card is one of the most collectible football cards of the postwar era. Also highly prized is the Payton card from a 33-card set that Topps produced for Holsum Bread. In 1977, Payton and Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson appeared on a card together, and in 1979 Payton was paired with Houston Oilers running back Earl Campbell.
Because Payton missed the rapid rise in autographed merchandise in the 21st century, signed Payton collectibles are relatively rare, causing the prices for his signed number-34 jerseys and both his Riddell team and commemorative Hall of Fame helmets to be somewhat higher than those of his peers.
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Recent News: Walter Payton Memorabilia
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Walter Payton Achievement nomineesESPN (blog), July 23rd
The award is named in honor of the late Walter Payton, the Professional Football Hall of Fame running back who spent his entire NFL career (1975-1987) with the Chicago Bears. Payton attended Jackson State University, a SWAC school, in the 1970s...Read more
Vote: Walter Payton Achievement AwardESPN (blog), July 23rd
The Walter Payton Achievement Award is an honor given annually to a player from each of the two schools participating in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney. This year's matchup features Alabama A&M facing off against North Carolina A&T ...Read more
Payton College Prep's 'Stunning' Annex Approved by City Plan CommissionDNAinfo, July 17th
The school is named after Chicago Bears great Walter Payton, and his distinctive number 34 that ornaments the school will be shifted to the west facade of the new annex. The project was originally announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year. It will use...Read more
Newly Released Walter Payton College Prep Annex Plans Include Gym, TheaterDNAinfo, July 16th
NEAR NORTH SIDE — The new addition to Walter Payton College Prep will include 11 classrooms, a new gym and fitness room and a "black box" theater. The $17 million, three-story annex for the school at 1034 N Wells St. is expected to open sometime ...Read more
Bears' top play winner: Walter Payton's runESPN (blog), July 11th
But as time ticked away on voting for the Chicago's most memorable play, there certainly was trepidation about how things would pan out as Walter Payton's rather beastly run against the Chiefs in 1977 was basically neck-and-neck with William...Read more
Bears' top plays: Payton's run vs. ChiefsESPN (blog), July 9th
The Walter Payton run is hands down #1!! I mean I love The Frige and the 85 Bears as much as the next Bear fan, and don't get me wrong, I jumped a mile out of my seat when Hester took the opening kickoff the distance in the big game. I just think...Read more
Princeton University Quarterback Named to 2014 Walter Payton Watch ListPatch.com, July 8th
The record-setting quarterback was among 20 college football players named to the first Walter Payton Award Watch List for the 2014 season on Monday, the University announced. The Walter Payton Award is presented by The Sports Network to the top ...Read more
Kenny Cook Named To 2014 Walter Payton Award Watch ListGardner Webb University Bulldogs, July 7th
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Gardner-Webb receiver Kenny Cook has been named to the 2014 Walter Payton Award Watch List, which was announced Monday by The Sports Network. Cook (Cross Hill, S.C. / Clinton HS) is the first Gardner-Webb student-athlete to ...Read more