Walter Payton

We’ve been thinking about Walter Payton in Chicago lately.  I mean, we always talk about him, but lately we’ve been thinking.   For me, it started with word that they were trying to get a statue put in at Soldier Field.  Apparently the Park District, which owns Soldier Field, had a problem with that.

Then, there was that beer commercial.  One came out a couple of weeks earlier featuring Tony Dorsett and I remember thinking, “If they did one of those with Walter Payton footage, I would probably cry.”  And can I tell you?  I heard it on the radio.  The sportscaster, calling the game as Payton broke Jim Brown’s record.  I freaked out in rush hour traffic.  Beer commercial.

And then, of course, we think of Walter when our team is getting spanked.  Which is why the idea of a half time memorial on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of Payton’s death, sounds like a great idea to me.

I was at the public service in 1999 with my friend, Eric.  I have never been to such an event for a celebrity before and I can’t imagine what would make me attend another.  But it was for Walter Payton.  I remember the Mayor wasn’t there, but the Mayor’s brother was.  He botched something ridiculous, like what number Payton wore.  I remember seeing the old teammates.  Dude, it was like Brian’s Song, so don’t get me started.

The active players had to get up and leave at some point.  They were getting on the bus to go to the next day’s game in Green Bay.  They really weren’t any good that season, but there is nothing worse than losing to the Packers (unless it is losing to the Vikings).  The last play was Green Bay kicking a field goal to win it.  A really easy one, if I remember correctly.  I don’t normally watch field goals, but for some reason I looked.  A Bear got a hand high enough in the air to block it.  We won the game.  In my little circle, “Walter’s Game” isn’t the day he broke the record.  It was the day after his memorial when it took a small miracle to beat the Packers.

If it takes a small miracle to beat Cleveland on Sunday, I will consider the season over.  But I will still take the opportunity to send some love Walter’s way.

2 Comments on “Walter Payton

  1. Walter Payton always played the game with heart and passion and never ran out of bounce or went down easy. As a good a player as he was, most say he was a much better man!

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