It was 39 years ago when a legend took the field for the very first time. He was picked 4th overall in the 1975 NFL draft but even then, no one could have guessed the impact this man would have on one of the greatest sports cities in the world for decades to come. He will forever be known as one of the greatest running backs to ever live, but that’s not always the first thing that pops into people’s heads when they hear his name. While he stunned millions of viewers over the course of his career for his play on the field (and of course stunned opposing defenders by bowling them over into the dirt), he is also known as one of the nicest gentlemen to ever play the game.
Of course you know who I am talking about. He is commonly referred to as “Sweetness”. He is the one and only, Walter Payton. While Michael Jordan is the most well known Chicago athlete, Walter is perhaps the most loved athlete in the history of Chicago sports. I never got a chance to watch Walter play since that was before my time, but growing up in a Chicago Bears fan household, all I ever heard from my dad was, “there will never be another player like Payton.” My dad, who also got to see Walter’s first game in the NFL back in 1975 before he even knew anything about him, wasn’t just referring to his skills on the field but his love and kindness off the field. He treated everyone with respect and had a genuine love for his fans.
He was born on this date in 1954. His wife, Ms. Connie Payton, celebrated her birthday just 3 days ago on July 22nd. Walter will forever be remembered in the great city of Chicago and among football fans worldwide. Happy 60th birthday, Sweetness!