In Memory of Sweetness

                                                                                              

                                                                                                 

                                                                                November 1, 1999

Monday afternoon, I got a call from my son with some sad news, Walter Payton had died.  Anyone that knows me on the internet knows me by dacarebear and people around here in Phoenix, know how strong a Bears fan that I am.  I have taken harassment, ribbing, kidding about being a Bear's fan but the one shining moment of our history was "Sweetness".  When my son was growing up and playing football, everyone wanted to be "Sweetness".  I wanted to create a page on my web site in his memory.  To tell him that he was loved by the City of Chicago and all of the Bear's Fans across the country, and he will be missed.

I received this email on Monday night and it bought tears to my eyes.

Dear Bears Fans:

Chicago Bears Release
November 1, 1999

Walter Payton, a giant of a man at 5 feet 10 inches tall, died Monday at his home in suburban Barrington following a lengthy illness brought on by a liver ailment and subsequent complications.

He was 45 years old.

Called Sweetness, he was anything but that to opponents.

Payton played for the Chicago Bears for 13 years, 1975-87.  On October 7, 1984, a gray, windy day at Soldier Field, he rushed the football for 154 yards against New Orleans, thereby surpassing Jim Brown's seemingly unbreakable career rushing record of 12,312 yards.  Walter played three more seasons, finishing with 16,726 career rushing yards.

As remarkable as his ability was his endurance.  Over a 13 year career, he missed just one game and complained bitterly at the time that he could have played.  He was held out at Pittsburgh in 1975, his rookie season, with a sprained ankle.  In 1977, against Minnesota at Soldier Field, Walter set the NFL single game rushing record, 275 yards.  He had the flu when he did it.  Those two records still stand.

Mike Ditka, his coach  for much of Payton's career, once said, I mean no disrespect to any player, because there's been a lot of great players.  I'll just say he's the best I ever saw, and I believe the best there ever was.

Walter Jerry Payton was born July 25, 1954, in Columbia, Mississippi.  He didn't play football until his junior year in high school, then went on to become the leading scorer in NCAA history, playing at Jackson State.  He was the Bears' first selection in the 1975 college player draft and the fourth player chosen overall.  He once said he became an elusive runner by playing tag, where he hated to be it.

Payton set 10 NFL records and 21 team records, but statistics are silent to his true worth.  He was a total player - runner, blocker, kicker, passer, receiver, tackler.  He once said his secret ambition was to be a defensive back.  He played quarterback in a regular season game because the Bears didn't have anyone else...he threw a touchdown pass.  He was selected to nine Pro Bowls and won a host of other football honors.  On July 31, 1993, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first man ever to be presented for that honor  by his son.

Walter retired following the 1987 season.  Speaking to an adoring Soldier Field crowd before his final home game, he said "I came into the game because it was fun, and because I loved to play.  It's still that way.  Thank you for being there ."

Payton balanced football fame against a private life he clung to vigorously.  The late Jim Finks, said about him that he answered  the call every Sunday for 13 years at a very demanding position.  He handled notoriety as professionally as anybody I've ever known, by being himself.  He let his work speak for itself.

Super Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Sweetness thanks for the memories, for Super Bowl and all years you played for DA Bears.
You will be missed greatly by this Bears Fan.

 

                                                                                   

                                           Hall of Fame

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