Walter Payton: The greatest running back of all time?

Walter Payton: The greatest running back of all time?

Some of you may know Walter Payton, a kid who grew up in a small home with his mom, brother, and sister in Columbia, Mississippi. His nickname “Sweetness” started out as a joke from his older brother always saying his voice was “soft and always high pitched”, but really it turned into a name that only one could have because of his talents.

He started off drawing NFL attention while he was a running back at Jackson State University in his freshman year in 1971. He was named an All-American and was named the Black College Player of the Year in 1973 and 1974. In his four years at Jackson State, Payton rushed for more than 3,500 yards and scored more than 450 points, receiving and rushing. He was a “I can do it all” type of player and many realized that in his first games in college.

After college, Payton went into the draft, he was selected 4th overall in the first round in 1975. Two years later, he set a single game rushing record with 275 yards, finishing his second year of pro football as the Most Valuable Player. Walter was a sensation on and off the field, he helped many others with school, learning, finding a job, and working harder. If there was ever a time someone needed help, Walter was the man you would want to go to. 

Payton was a loyal man; he stayed with the Chicago Bears his whole career and devoted many hours to make himself and his teammates better. That led to them winning a Super Bowl in 1986, winning 46-10 over the New England Patriots. Sweetness had 22 rushes for 61 yards, although he didn’t have the best game of his life, he helped Lineman William Perry score his first Super Bowl touchdown which turned out to be a quite historic one. Perry’s nickname was “The Refrigerator”, and when he lined up on 3rd and goal and the 1 yard line, he ran through that New England defensive line like a semi truck.

Some argue that Walter Payton is the greatest running back of all time, others may say that Barry Sanders is the best. Walter Payton played 2 less years then Barry, and tallied 1,200 more rushing yards then Sanders.  Payton also exceeds Barry in a category that is quite impressive; he had 108 games where he had 100+ yards from scrimmage. Don’t get me wrong, Barry is an exciting player to watch, but he couldn’t do some of the things Walter Payton could. He had 170 consecutive starts in the NFL, which is a record. It is said to be true that Payton only missed one game in his whole NFL career, he was still eligible; it was just his coaches decision.

He has a crazy amount of accomplishments in the NFL as well, 11 time award winner, 9 pro bowls, 5 first team all pro, and 3 times player of the week, he even has his own award that recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970. It was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community. Each year, a winner is selected from 32 nominees from the 32 different teams. A panel of judges, which includes the Commissioner of the NFL, the previous year’s winner, and a number of former players select the winner of the award. The Man of the Year winner receives a $250,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice. The other 31 finalists also receive donations in their name of $50,000 each to charities of their choice.

All in all, Walter Payton is undoubtedly one of the greatest running backs of all time, and has stats stacked up far further than those of Barry Sanders.

Who was the better running back, Walter Payton or Barry Sanders?


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Barry Sanders: The greatest running back of all time?