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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WATCH: Ezekiel Elliott breaks off long TD run with a kickFOXSports.com, October 3rd
Elliott initially had a huge hole to get the yardage he needed to convert a fourth down, but it appeared an Indiana defender might cut him down after a medium gain. But then the 20-year-old made like Walter Payton with a move that looked an awful like...Read more
Former Marshall QB Michael Payton To Be Honored SaturdayWCHS-TV8, October 3rd
In 1991, he was the Walter Payton Award runner-up after leading the nation in passing efficiency (181.3) and taking Marshall to the national championship game. Payton was twice named Southern Conference Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year...Read more
1985 Bears Coverage: Nothing's wrong with star PaytonChicago Sun-Times, October 2nd
After years of Walter Payton right, Walter Payton left and Walter Payton up the middle, the Bears have unleashed an offense so varied and so imaginative that long-time fans can hardly believe their eyes. After years of a ball-control offense that was...Read more
Ditka Helping Effort To Cure Liver Disease That Killed Walter PaytonCBS Local, October 1st
CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Bears coach Mike Ditka has lent his voice to a campaign to find a cure for the liver disease that killed Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. “You think of how strong he was,” Ditka said. “I mean, he was the personification...Read more
1985 Bears Coverage: Walter Payton throws eighth touchdown pass of careerChicago Sun-Times, September 30th
Walter Payton's touchdown pass was his eighth in the NFL. The touchdown he scored was his 99th. McMahon's touchdown catch was his second. The Bears made only two third-down conversions. Both went for touchdowns. They led 14-10 by the time they ...Read more
Walter Payton's son had a snappy retort for FSU assistant coach's Miami jokeFor The Win, September 19th
Miami did not play against Florida State on Saturday, but elements of the teams' rivalry definitely played out online. Tim Brewster, a Seminoles assistant coach, took to Twitter to make a jab at the Hurricanes as they played Nebraska at home. But...Read more
JP Presser: Jarrett Payton's letter to the head coach of the team from WisconsinWGN Radio, September 10th
Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton leaps over a pileup of Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers during a season opener in Soldier Field on September 2, 1979. The Bears won the game 6-3, before a sellout crowd of more than 58,000. Payton had ...Read more
South Carolina State tight end receives 2015 Walter Payton Achievement AwardWIS, September 6th
Past winners of the Walter Payton Achievement Award include, for 2014: Alan Cruz, Alabama A&M, and Quentin Todd, North Carolina A&T State University; 2013: Jonathan Pillow, Florida A&M University, and Kevin Eugene, Mississippi Valley State University; ...Read more