This week marked the end of the baseball season in Chicago. And as we are too often familiar with, neither the White Sox or Cubs are participating in the playoffs. Despite winning the World Series in 2005, White Sox fans are used to this scenario. Cub fans, well let's just say they've understood how it goes on the North side for well over a century now.
This week also marked the end of innocence for fans of Walter Payton. A new biography, Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, by Jeff Pearlman delves into the private life of the greatest football player that has ever played the game.
The reaction, in Chicago, has been that of sadness. Sad, because a beloved sports hero's reputation has been tarnished. Sad, because Walter Payton died 12 years ago and can't stiff-arm this opponent on his own. Sad, because his family has to hear and address things that I'm sure they would like to forget.
I'm not going to list the various allegations the author claims in the book. Truth is, we've heard this story all too many times about current celebrities. Hell, Charlie Sheen went on tour to brag about the same types of activities. As a society we've become immune to these type of stories. But, this is Walter Payton, #34, Sweetness.
I was 10 years old when Walter first started playing for the Bears. I was 22 by the time he retired. I learned was football was while watching the greatest player school others on the game. My family would watch the games each week without fail. For many of Walter's seasons, watching him play was the only joy us fans had. Fans weren't wondering what was Walter doing off the field? Back then athletes' personal lives were just that, personal.
Even though Walter's fans are numerous, my 8 year old son included, how Walter's life played out truly only mattered to his family. Before I knew anything about this book I had seen his widow's comment about the book;
"Walter, like all of us, wasn’t perfect. The challenges he faced were well known to those of us who loved and lived with him. He was a great father to Jarrett and Brittney, and held a special place in the football world and the Chicago community. Recent disclosures – some true, some untrue – do not change this. I’m saddened that anyone would attempt to profit from these stories, many told by people with little credibility. Thank you all for your continued support."
~Connie Payton and Family~
My family & I appreciate all the love & support. At times life gets hard; We will stand up & stay strong!
His family has moved on. Which what the world will do.
The question that came to mind first was, Why? Why write this book now? The author claims he wanted to truly know who Walter Payton was. With all due respect, Mr. Pearlman, I say, "Bullshite!" Who Walter was is really none of yours, mine or the rest of the world's business. Clearly, you wanted to profit from destroying the public persona of a passed legend. The world gains nothing from this book or any of your past books;
The Bad Guys Won: A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, the Kid, and the Rest of the ... Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best
Coming out in the big leagues: why John Amaeichi didn't change the world of professional sports.(2007: YEAR IN REVIEW): An article from: The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
If you wanted to know who Walter Payton wanted you to know, you should read his autobiography,
Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton, written by Walter Payton and Don Yaeger. A great book about Walter by Walter. That's how you get to know who somebody is or was.
I do not, in general, idolize athletes. With that said, I do hold Walter Payton's career in high esteem. I have a large autographed poster of Walter in my Family Room. I talk to my son about Walter. Not just the player, but the man we all knew.
When the world stops people will remember the Walter Payton's of the world. People like Walter do far more good than bad. The Jeff Pearlman's will be numerous, wealthy, but forgotten.
God Bless Walter Payton.