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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Walter Payton Made History 37 Years Ago TodayChicagoist, November 20th
In 1977 a young running back from Jackson State University named Walter Payton was in his third season with the Bears. Payton rushed for 1,390 yards and scored 13 touchdowns the previous year but 1977 was his breakout season. He rushed for 1,852 ...Read more
Emmitt Smith's bittersweet memory of breaking Walter Payton's recordComcast SportsNet Chicago, November 19th
The second season of Bears Classics continued on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Tuesday night with a special episode, subtitled Payton Forever, dedicated to the life of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Fellow Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, ...Read more
Sacramento State receiver DeAndre Carter is Walter Payton Award finalistSacramento Bee, November 18th
Sacramento State senior wide receiver DeAndre Carter is a finalist for the Walton Payton Award, presented annually to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. With one game to play, Carter holds Sac State season records with...Read more
Payton documentary debuting TuesdayChicagoBears.com, November 18th
Debuting Tuesday at 7 p.m. exclusively on Comcast SportsNet, Bears Classics will present a special edition dedicated to the one and only Walter Payton, a Hall of Fame legend and a man who transformed the game of football forever with his athletic...Read more
'Bears Classics' focuses on Walter PaytonChicago Tribune (blog), November 17th
It has been 27 years since he last carried a football, and 15 years since his death. Yet for most Bears fans, the memories of Walter Payton always will be as vivid as yesterday. The latest installment of “Bears Classics” features a look at the life of...Read more
CSN looks back at life and career of Walter Payton in next installment of ...Comcast SportsNet Chicago, November 13th
Debuting Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00 PM CT exclusively on Comcast SportsNet, Bears Classics will present a special edition dedicated to the one and only Walter Payton, a Hall of Fame legend and a man who transformed the game of football forever with ...Read more
William Gay Named Steelers 2014 Walter Payton Man of the YearSteelers.com, November 12th
Gay represents the Steelers as one of 32 NFL team's Man of the Year award winners and qualifies for the league's national 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year. The award recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence...Read more
Miami's Duke Johnson likened to Walter Payton, Barry SandersNFL.com, October 29th
Miami running back Duke Johnson's name isn't resonating with Heisman Trophy pundits, the way Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah is, nor is he considered most likely to snap the position's two-year absence from the first round of the NFL draft, the way Georgia's ...Read more