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Payton drafted 39 years ago today
January 28, 2014 - Terri Castelaz
It was 39 years ago today (Jan. 28), Walter “Sweetness” Payton was drafted into the NFL. He was chosen by the Bears as the fourth overall pick in the 1975 draft.
Payton played at Jackson State University. He was a two-time first-team All-American, who set the NCAA scoring record with 464 points, established nine school records and received votes for the Heisman Trophy.
Sweetness knew he would enjoy a successful career with the Bears. "When I get through with Chicago, they'll be loving me," Payton said the day he was drafted. A running back was a big need for the Bears that year. Bears owner George Halas said after drafting Payton, "We certainly did one thing. We helped our needs. I'm so enthused with the whole thing. I think it's the finest Bear draft in 10 years."
And a very successful career it was — Payton rushed for 16,726 yards during his 13-year career with the Bears. And help the team to a Super Bowl victory in 1985. He once held the league's record for most career rushing yards, touchdowns, carries, yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards, and many other categories. He was also selected nine times to the Pro Bowl.
He retired in 1987, only missing one game in his rookie year. Payton was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Many describe Walter Payton as the greatest football player they have ever seen (including me)—but even greater as a human being. Payton passed away on Nov. 1, 1999 at the young age of 45.
I became a Chicago Bear fan at a young age watching Sweetness play. As many know I am still a die hard Bears fan, even named my middle daughter, Payton after this talented athlete.
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