30 April 2008
According to Mike Lanigan, Walter Payton was “the greatest running back in the history of football”. This is not a controversial opinion. Some say he was simply the greatest player ever, anywhere, in any position. Payton, nicknamed &Sweetness', played for the Chicago Bears from 1975 until 1987. Despite being always the number one target of defensive opponents, he missed only one game in his career – in his rookie season due to a bruised thigh. He went on to play 186 consecutive games. He was the NFL Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player in both 1977 and 1985. He caught 492 pass receptions for 4,538 yards and 15 touchdowns. He passed 34 times for 331 yards and eight touchdowns. Walter contributed 16,726 rushing yards for the Bears and 100 touchdowns. Payton was born on 25 July, 1954 in Columbia, Mississippi. He was a fi rst-round draft choice from Jackson State, played in nine Pro Bowls, held the single-game rushing record of 275 yards against central division rival Minnesota Vikings, and ran for more than 100 yards in 77 games. After football he focused on philanthropy as well as his heavy equipment business. He established the Walter Payton Foundation in 1998 to ease the suffering of children in need. He died of bile duct cancer on 1 November 1999, aged 45.