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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Torrey Smith honored as Ravens' Walter Payton Man of the Year nomineeBaltimore Sun, December 20th
Those qualities were recognized in wide receiver Torrey Smith by the Ravens on Friday when he was named the franchise's nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Smith is one of 32 NFL players nominated for an award that will be presented ...Read more
Hekker Nominated for Walter Payton Man of the YearStLouisrams.com, December 19th
St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker was nominated for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Johnny Hekker has been a key player on the field since he came to the Rams as an undrafted free agent, but he's also been a significant contributor in ...Read more
Villanova's Robertson earns Walter Payton AwardMain Line, December 19th
PHILADELPHIA >> If he could, John Robertson would gladly trade the Walter Payton Award he won Monday night for a trip to Fargo, North Dakota to take on three-time defending North Dakota State in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision semifinal ...Read more
Walter Payton nominees announcedESPN, December 16th
NEW YORK -- The NFL has announced the 32 players eligible for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. [+] Enlarge Aaron Rodgers. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images Aaron Rodgers is one of 32 nominees up for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year ...Read more
NFL announces 32 nominees for Walter Payton Man of the YearNFL.com, December 16th
"As a company whose core values include integrity, trust and community support, Nationwide is proud to be the sponsor of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award," said Matt Jauchius, Nationwide's chief marketing officer. "While only one of these men...Read more
Nova QB tapped as top FCS playerESPN, December 15th
PHILADELPHIA -- Villanova Wildcats quarterback John Robertson won the Walter Payton Award on Monday night as the best player in the Football Championship Subdivision. "I have never been a part of a team that played with so much passion," said ...Read more
John Robertson named 2014 Walter Payton Award winnerVU Hoops, December 15th
Villanova junior quarterback, John Robertson, had a stellar season and was rewarded with the 2014 Walter Payton Award for the nation's most outstanding player in Division 1-FCS Football. With the announcement at tonight's Sports Network FCS Awards ...Read more
Le'Veon Bell joins Walter Payton with huge all-purpose game (NFL in 90)Yahoo Sports (blog), December 8th
"It's an honor to be mentioned with a guy like Walter Payton," said Bell, who was just seven years old when Payton died in 1999. "I've heard a lot about him. Obviously I haven't seen a full game of how he runs, things like that, but I've seen a lot of...Read more