They called him Sweetness
Walter Payton (July 25, 1954 – November 1, 1999)
As you may have noticed I have used a picture of a football player called sweetness in my profile. I will attempt to explain why. I first wondered, how exactly any football player could be called “Sweetness”. A man, who would devastate on coming tacklers with a stiff arm, that emulated a 4x4 post to the head, he would stop short of going out of bounds, and quickly turn the other way, lowering his shoulder into the chest of his opponent, with enough force to flatten them on their backs. He would, spit, twist, scrap and scrape on every run, like it was his last run of his life. But THEN, he would quickly jump up after each tackle, flip the ball to the referee, and in many cases, he would extend his hand to help up his opponent. Then do it all over again. He always played with a passion; he had a real love for the game. His running style was poetic. To watch him run was always entertaining, be it a one yard gain or a 40-yard run, he always had finesse and an artisanship. He invented a “stutter-step” that perplexed a linebacker’s ability to make a solid tackle. On several occasions he actually leaped, headfirst, over the heads of his opponent and goal line for a score. He threw for touchdowns, he caught one handed passes and he blocked blitzing linebackers, there was no better name for him, after watching all of this, than SWEETNESS.
Then I began to learn more about this guy. Walter Payton. His nickname was not only appropriate to the art of the greatest running back to ever play the game, but his lifestyle that he led may have even been a bigger tribute to that word SWEETNESS. He lived his life with the same passion as he did with his work. He was such a unique human being, and was the epitome of what a sports hero was to be. He had work ethics that was second to none. He demonstrated to his teammates that there was no other way to winning but through hard work. He also utilized that hard work to become an outstanding businessman, forming restaurants, night clubs, machine equipment, and was pursing an NFL team. He became a prominent philanthropist in the Chicago area, and always made time for kids. He was a devoted family man. He had earned respect by not only every team he played, but every person he come in contact with. He was a class act on and off the field. Because of this, the NFL renamed the “Player of the Year” award to the Walter Payton Player of the Year Award. Unfortunately he succumbed to a rare liver disease at the age of 45.
It was this man, who became my childhood hero, who set the precedent in the way I wanted to conduct my life....and the reason why I chose him as my profile picture.
I will go more into the life of Walter Payton in the near future.