Many people are familiar with the phrase, “”football is life,”” but not everyone can say they have lived it to the fullest extent as Walter Payton did. The late Hall of Fame running back played his entire professional career with the Chicago Bears for thirteen years and was one of the best players to ever step on a football field. In this article, Michael Gershman takes an in-depth look at Payton’s career from his humble beginnings in Mississippi all the way through his Super Bowl XX victory over the New England Patriots.
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Introduction – Walter Payton was born on July 25, 1954 in Columbia, Mississippi. He grew up with a love for football and dreamed of being one of the best to ever play the game. Although he had an incredible thirteen-year career with the Chicago Bears after being drafted fourth overall in 1975, many people will remember Payton for his charity work and the Walter Payton Foundation. Payton died of a rare liver disease on November 1, 1999 at the age of 45.
Walter Payton – Although not many people remember Walter today besides fans of Bears football, he is considered one of the best football players to ever live. He played his entire thirteen-year career with the Chicago Bears and is remembered for leading the team to Super Bowl XX. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Payton’s Career – Payton played college football at Jackson State University, where he became a four-time All-American and set several school records. In 1975, he was drafted fourth overall by the Chicago Bears. Payton began playing for the Chicago Bears in 1975 and retired as a player after the 1987 season, although he stayed on with the team as an assistant coach until 1993. Walter led the Bears to numerous victories during his career including Super Bowl XX where they defeated New England 26-10. He was also beloved by Chicagoans not only because of his stellar performance on the field but because of his charity work throughout the city. Payton founded The Walter and Connie Payton Foundation in 1984, which provides support to various charitable organizations for disadvantaged families throughout Chicago. He also created an award called the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 1984.
Legacy and impact on the NFL
Payton was one of the most well-respected players in football for his extraordinary contributions both on and off the field. He led his team to victory at Super Bowl XX, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, named NFL Man of the Year Award winner in 1984, won several Player of the Year honors during his career, and was one of the most prolific running backs in NFL history. Payton is ranked third all-time for rushing yards, fourth all-time for rushing touchdowns, and sixth all-time for combined net yards. He became the first player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in six seasons and holds several Bears team records including most career rushing attempts and most career rushing yards. He was also remembered for his charitable contributions, which is why he was awarded the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1984 and created The Walter Payton Foundation in 1984 to support disadvantaged families throughout Chicago.
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Walter Payton was one of the best players to play football. He had a thirteen-year career with the Chicago Bears where he led his team to Super Bowl XX and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Walter also founded The Walter and Connie Payton Foundation in 1984, which provides support to various charitable organizations for disadvantaged families throughout Chicago. He was recognized for his contributions to the league and remembered for being a great leader in sport and generosity in figuring out ways to help others around him.