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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Charles Tillman No. 66 in player rankings
ESPN (blog), August 21st

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman checked in at No. 66 in our NFLRank project, which kicked off Day 4 on Thursday with ESPN ranking the Top 100 players around the league on both sides of the ball...Read more

Ex-Sun-Times writer talks about his book-turned-movie on HS football team
Chicago Sun-Times, August 20th

It was just another surreal image for someone who grew up on a farm near Rochelle watching the White Sox on Channel 44 and worshipping Walter Payton. I left the Sun-Times in 2013 when I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an on-set ...Read more

National Title, NFL Draft Dreams Within Reach for Former Oregon QB Bryan ...
Bleacher Report, August 20th

He enters the 2014 season as captain of a legitimate national championship contender in the Football Championship Subdivision. He's a preseason favorite to contend for the Walter Payton Award, given to the subdivision's premier offensive player. And...Read more

Walter Payton Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener
BearGoggles, August 4th

It's an honor and a privilege to introduce a player who is not only one of the all-time greatest Chicago Bears, but also one of the greatest players in NFL history — Walter Payton. It's equally an honor and an privilege to introduce a player who...Read more

Vote: MEAC/SWAC Challenge Walter Payton Achievement Award
Southwestern Athletic Conference Official Athletic Site, July 30th

ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, announced six nominees for the 2014 Walter Payton Achievement Award, granted annually to a player from each team participating in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney. This year's match up features the ...Read more

NFL, family salute Walter Payton on his birthday
Chicago Tribune, July 25th

On Friday, what would have been Walter Payton's 60th birthday, friends, family and the National Football League are remembering the Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back. “Obviously this would have been a big birthday for him, turning 60 this year...Read more

WATCH: Walter Payton, Joe Montana spar with Church Lady in 1987
CBSSports.com, July 25th

And though he died in 1999, we'd like to celebrate his birthday remembering the time he appeared on Saturday Night Live and sparred with the Church Lady. Despite Dana Carvey's character calling it the Satan Bowl and decrying the fans who watch it as ...Read more

Walter Payton Achievement nominees
ESPN (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