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They called him Sweetness

Updated on November 23, 2010

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.

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    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Walter Payton never missed an opportunity to beat up on the Detroit Lions.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      Never watched a football game, but this tale showed a man with heart, you show cased him with honor. I voted you up across the board. Excellent job, 50

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 6 years ago

      There are many great athletes like Payton who demonstrated there loving and caring heart off and on the playing field. What a lovely tribute to a great player that he was, he had an impact on the game no doubt and is sorely missed by ball fans. Thanks for the share.

    • CMerritt profile image
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      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      DiamondRN, the bears vs the lions was always a classic game to watch back in the Payton days. Barry Sanders was another class act, who was a lot of fun to watch.

      50, thank you so much for your compliments. It WAS done with the utmost honor. He was all Heart!

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      saddlerider1, Thanks for sharing your thought with me, I really appreciate it.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

      Walter Peyton is one of a handful of humans...I consider him far more than a sports figure...who deserve to be referred to as a legend of mankind. Your description of him was a great reminder of what mankind lost when Walter Peyton passed from this life. At the same time, you reminded us of the legacy that he left for all. He set the bar for the rest of humans showing us a way to approach life by living rather than existing. God Bless Sweetness and thank you for sharing this writing. WB

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Thanks WB, I really miss this guy, and really feel blessed that I had the opportunity to watch him, and learn about him.

    • profile image

      pcoach 6 years ago

      Good hub on a great man. We need more like him.

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 6 years ago from New York, NY

      CMerritt - I see you and I are on the same wavelength ;) You already know how I feel about Sweetness. . .I am linking my sweet to this hub! I look forward to much more . .

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      A lovely tribute to a man's man. Sweetness was the best. So sad he died so young.

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Wavegirl22, Thanks for sharing with me. Those of us who took the time to get to know sweetness and follow him, actually do have a common bond. YOUR hub on sweetness is magnificiant, btw.

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      James,

      It still tugs on my heart when I think about his absense. Just glad I was able to witness this guy first hand.

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it.

    • American_Choices profile image

      American_Choices 6 years ago from USA

      I don't admire many, and sports is not an area I follow but this man touches my heart. Your Hub is a great tribute to a wonderful man!

      He died way too young. God wanted the great one and he was certainly great. So appreciative of the time given to us.

    • CMerritt profile image
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      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      American_Choices,

      Thanks for your kind words, and boy do I agree with you, it amazes me of the amount of people who feel as you and I do about this man. He was truly a one of a kind.

    • profile image

      johnnynaakea 6 years ago

      He was my favorite RB too! The dude was awesome. Many young players can learn from his example on and off the field,

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Thanks for sharing johnnyn, He was the ultimate role model for many.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      I hadn't heard of Walter Payton before now but that didn't stop me enjoying his story which was very well written by the way.

      This is what I like about HP as well as expressing ourselves we also learn so much more from others.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Take care.

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Eiddwen, Thank you VERY much for your kind words. I am so glad you got to at least read about Walter. I agree with you about Hubpages, it really is a great place to learn.

    • jtcarr1164 profile image

      jtcarr1164 6 years ago from Tueplo, Mississippi

      Fantastic Hub about a fantastic player and person. I loved watching him play. He was a native of Mississippi as I am also! It is a shame we lost him so early. Most people do not even realize how instrumental he was in bringing the Rams to St. Louis. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Yeah, Walter kind of got the shaft on the rams deal.

      Thanks for your comments....It always pleases me to see other fans of "Sweetnes"...

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      A fine tribute to one of the greatest running backs in history. Nicely done.

    • CMerritt profile image
      Author

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Thank you for your coments FaithDream. He WAS truly a great running back.

    • CMerritt profile image
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      Chris Merritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      yesterday was Sweetness' Birthday....

      He is missed...

      :(

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