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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Rams, Bears set for showdownAlton Telegraph, July 3rd
The Bears' Matt Forte is among the league leaders with 774 yards and needs 66 to pass Neal Anderson (6,166) for second place on the franchise list behind Walter Payton. The Colts managed 18 yards rushing against St. Louis. SPECIAL TEAMS: Rams ...Read more
Scholarships give college-bound homeless students a boostChicago Tribune, July 2nd
Walter Payton College Prep senior Aja Lowrey holds the camera for a selfie June 25, 2015, with Walter Payton College Prep Assistant Principal Michele Washington, from left, Washington's mother Sandra Washington, and Lowrey's mother, Sherita Scott...Read more
Walter Payton Unanimous Choice as Top RB of Super Bowl EraBearGoggles, July 1st
When you consider the best of the best running backs, Walter Payton stands alone. NFL.com ranked the top 10 running backs of the Super Bowl era and Sweetness was the top choice among all three writers who chimed in with their list. Here are what the ...Read more
Top running backs of Super Bowl era: Walter Payton is kingNFL.com, June 29th
Earlier this month, the San Diego Chargers announced that they're retiring LaDainian Tomlinson's number (21) with an official ceremony in November. It's a well-deserved honor for one of the best NFL players of the new millennium. That got us thinking: ...Read more
Walter Payton Liver Center opens clinic in NapervilleWashington Times, June 25th
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Patients with liver diseases in Chicago's western suburbs have more convenient access to care through a new clinic in Naperville named for Walter Payton. The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1J64US0) the...Read more
Funniest High School Graduation Speech of 2015Patch.com, June 24th
Walter Payton Prep doesn't name a traditional valedictorian and salutatorian. He says he spent about two months composing the monologue, which captured slices of life and personality from the past year and wisely avoided delivering any advice to his...Read more
Walter Payton liver clinic launches in NapervilleChicago Daily Herald, June 24th
Connie Payton announces the opening Tuesday of the Walter Payton Liver Center Outreach Clinic at the Edward Cancer Center in Naperville, where Dr. Sean Koppe from the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System has begun treating ...Read more
Payton, Piccolo, Cancer, And Why I Can't Stop Watching 'Brian's Song'ChicagoNow (blog), June 9th
I don't remember the first time I saw the movie “Brian's Song” or heard of Brian Piccolo and I don't remember the first time I watched Walter Payton carry a football. I remember being a kid for all of those events. Little did I realize what a huge...Read more