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Walter Payton was the one of the greatest NFL football players of all time. He was born July 25 1954 in Columbia Mississippi. When he was he was a kid he was in boy scouts, little league, and active in his local church. When he reached high school he played drums in the marching band, he was on the track team and he sang in his school choir. Walter also played drums outside his school in his jazz rock groups. However, at the time he wasn’t interested in playing football.
The reason he started football is not because he wanted to. It’s because his high school coach asked him to. It just so happens that he was amazing at the running back position in his junior and senior years. So good in fact that he attended college on a football scholarship at Jackson State University. At Jackson State University he set several school records, and made the all American football team. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in communications before being drafted into the NFL. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1975 NFL draft as the fourth overall pick. As a Bear he set multiple team records as well as NFL records. He set the single game rushing record and a single season of rushing record as well with over 1800 rushing yards.
During his ninth season in the NFL he became the NFL’s all time leading rusher. This record would stand for another 18 years. By the time he retired in 1988 he rushed for over 16,700 yards and scored 110 touchdowns. Walter Payton only missed one game in 13 seasons and earned him a player the number 1 player of the year. He also was selected as a 9 time pro bowl player. However, the highlight of his career was in 1986 when he and the Chicago Bears won super bowl 20 and became the world champions. His number was retired by the Chicago Bears in 1989 and was inducted into the NFL hall of fame in 1993. But perhaps Walters best work was what he did off the field.
Walter was known as a very kind and giving person to all. He did a lot of charity work including being an advocate for kids and organ donation. His couch Mike Ditka said, “Walter Payton was the greatest football player he had ever seen but even greater as a human being” unfortunately Walter Payton’s life came to an end in 1999 when he died of a rare liver disease at the age of 45.
So great was his legacy that the NCAA changed their offensive player of the year reword to the Walter Payton award. The NFL now awards the “Walter Payton man of the year” award to the player who does the most charity that year. Walter Payton was truly a champion and a hero on and off the field.
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