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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Raiders Sign LB Lorenzo AlexanderRaiders.com, September 2nd
Off the field, Alexander was named the Redskins' Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee twice (2010-11) during his tenure with the team. He was also named as the recipient of Washington's Media Good Guy award in both 2011 and 2012. A native of ...Read more
Season Preview: For Villanova, it's more than just John RobertsonComcast SportsNet Philadelphia, September 2nd
And, of course, it's nice that the reigning Walter Payton Award winner who completed 65 percent of his passes and threw for 35 touchdowns last season will be the one tossing them passes. “It's very helpful to have a guy like him, no doubt,” Gulyas said...Read more
2014 Redskins Community Man Of The Year: Darrel YoungRedskins.com, September 2nd
Selected as the Washington Redskins' 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his contributions both on the field and in the community, fullback Darrel Young was instrumental to the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation's impact on area children...Read more
Happy Birthday, Eric DickersonThe Post Game (blog), September 1st
He was AP first-team All-Pro five times and led the league in rushing in 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1988. At the time of his retirement in 1993, his 13,259 yards rushing ranked second on the all-time list behind Walter Payton. Dickerson entered the Pro...Read more
Expectations high for Bobcats, but will defensive changes pay off?Billings Gazette, September 1st
Prukop finished 2014 ranked second in the FCS in QB efficiency, trailing only Villanova's John Robertson, the eventual Walter Payton Award winner. Still, a knee injury crippled Prukop for the final two games of the regular season — a win over Idaho...Read more
Suburban Rundown: Payton coffee, Duchossois selfieChicago Daily Herald, August 30th
Jarrett Payton, the only son of legendary Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, tells me Payton Premium Coffee, made by Batavia-based Papanicholas Coffee, will hit Jewel-Osco shelves by the time NFL season officially kicks off Sept. 10. It's the...Read more
UAPB's Rucker wins 2015 Walter Payton Achievement AwardSouthwestern Athletic Conference Official Athletic Site, August 27th
The winners of the eighth annual Walter Payton Achievement Award, which is given to one player from each team participating in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, were announced today by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN. The 11th annual ...Read more
Do Unto Others: The Only Leadership Advice You'll Ever NeedForbes, August 5th
“My father told me when I was young that it was your responsibility, once you've had some success, to reach back and bring someone with you,” Walter Payton said to me. And these were words by which he lived. Like the greatest companies in sports and ...Read more