Walter Payton was one of my biggest childhood heroes.
I remember Payton’s press conference in ‘99 weeks before he died where he pleaded for a liver transplant. I was devastated.
Payton played for some terrible Bears teams. He was the Bears’ only weapon for almost 10 years so opposing defenses could key on him yet he still ran over them. Despite being the opposing defense’s main target Payton played in every game for the Bears for 10 consecutive years during which Payton broke every NFL rushing record before retiring after the 1986 season.
Payton never celebrated a TD. Instead, he would hand the ball to his linemen so they received credit. Payton was also notorious for pulling jokes in the locker room. He was soft spoken, worked hard and treated his teammates with respect. Payton was a class act.
Here’s to you Walter for being one bad ass mofo and providing a little kid in Chicago with a role model and hero for so many years. This kid is still your biggest fan.