Walter Payton

Today the Bears and the city of Chicago and fans everywhere have lost a great friend and hero.
Bears President and CEO
Ted Phillips

Walter Payton
Sweetness through the years

Jan. 28, 1975
No. 34 joins the Bears as a first-round draft choice from Jackson State University. He was the fourth pick in the draft and the first running back taken.
Nov. 16, 1975 Records his first 100-yard NFL game, gaining 105 yards on 23 carries against San Francisco.
1976 Records his first 1,000-yard season, with 1,390 yards and 311 attempts.
Nov. 20, 1977 He sets NFL single-game rushing mark with 275 yards against division rival Minnesota Vikings.
1977 Payton selected NFL Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
Dec. 1978 Payton's father, Edward, dies in Mississippi.
Oct. 7, 1984 Breaks Jim Brown's NFL all-time career rushing mark of 12,312 yards.
1985 Payton again chosen NFL Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
Jan. 26, 1986 Payton and the Bears win Super Bowl XX, defeating New England 46-10.
Jan. 10, 1988 Payton ends playing career as the team loses to Washington in the playoffs. He missed one game his first year and played 186 consecutive games. Payton played in nine Pro Bowls, was named All-Pro seven times, is the NFL's all-time leader in rushing and combined net yards and holds the single-game rushing record of 275 yards. He ran for more than 100 yards in 77 games.
1987 Joins Bears Board of Directors.
1987 Walter Payton Award is established to honor best player annually among Division I-AA schools.
1988 Becomes executive director of the George Halas/Walter Payton Foundation benefiting neglected and abused children.
1992 Make debut as a pro race car driver in Trans-Am racing.
July 31, 1993 Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Son Jarrett introduces him.
1994 Named to NFL's 75th Anniversary Team.
1995 Becomes co-owner of an Indy-car team, Payton/Coyne Racing.
1996 Named to the College Football Hall of Fame.
1996 Walter Payton's Roundhouse complex opens in Aurora. It includes a brewpub, cigar room and the Walter Payton Sports Museum.
Feb. 2, 1999 Payton reveals his liver disease and need for transplant.
July 1999 Announces intent to join three other investors to bring an Arena Football League franchise to Allstate Arena.
July 16, 1999 The 1999 NFL draft class picks Payton as league's greatest all-time player.
Sept. 1999 Named a potential investor in Emerald casino slated for Rosemont.
1999 Voted No. 39 among North American athletes of the 20th century by ESPN's SportsCentury panel.


Other key developments in Payton's life:

  • Former owner of Walter Payton Power Equipment, making sales and rentals of heavy construction equipment.
  • Partner in Celebrity Appearances Inc., a speakers bureau.
  • Founding director of First Northwest Bank in Arlington Heights.
  • Director of American Foot and Ankle IPA.
  • Weekly radio guest and host of "The Walter Payton Show" on WSCR radio.
  • Married to college girlfriend, Connie, for more than 20 years, with two children, Jarrett and Brittney.

Sources: Walter Payton Inc., Daily Herald news reports and Internet research



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