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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A Gould Record: Bears kicker closes in on 'something special'Chicago Sun-Times, October 9th
When you're on the same list as Walter Payton, it means something. It's beyond significant. That's the message former Bears kicker Kevin Butler said he has tried to impress upon Robbie Gould, who is on the verge of making history. “He's representing...Read more
Low of losing 1984 NLCS overwhelms high of Walter Payton rushing recordChicago Tribune, October 9th
At the bottom of the front page of that sports section was a brief reference to stories and columns inside on pages 10 and 14 regarding the Bears' Walter Payton breaking Jim Brown's all-time NFL rushing record. But the Cubs story that day was more ...Read more
1985 Bears Coverage: Payton now 76-76 as a BearChicago Sun-Times, October 7th
“It was about time,” said Walter Payton, who has endured more losing seasons than winning seasons. “The thing that sets this team apart from teams in the past is, regardless of how far behind we get or how many mistakes we make, nobody loses confidence ...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
1985 Bears Coverage: Payton part, heart of teamChicago Sun-Times, September 30th
Walter Payton, seven carries, six yards rushing. Bears 45, Redskins 10. I hope the devil has a pair of ice skates. Hell must be frozen over, the ice a foot thick. “We didn't really do anything on offense,” Mike Ditka said,] looking very puzzled...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
Flashback: First Bears-Packers opener at Soldier Field lacked punchChicago Tribune, September 11th
Walter Payton takes a breather on the bench during the Sept. 2, 1979, season opener against Green Bay. Walter Payton takes a breather on the bench during the Sept. 2, 1979, season opener against Green Bay. (WALTER NEAL). Fred MitchellContact ...Read more