Blog Entry

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

Posted on: September 30, 2011 7:18 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 8:09 am
 

OPENING HIT: I didn’t know Walter Payton well but I knew him. I apparently didn’t know him well enough. Based on a new book about Payton’s life, few did.

A new biography, The Hero No One Knew, suggests Payton was not the simplistic goody-goody the media often portrayed him to be. He had extra marital affairs, took drugs to dull the pain of a long and brutal NFL career, and contemplated suicide. In other words, Payton was a human being with flaws, not perfect piece of clay built by Michelangelo.

Now, unlike a lot of the immature critics who are wrongly attacking the author, Jeff Pearlman, I’ve read the book. It’s a well reported, factually strong, highly interesting read about one of the most famous figures in NFL history. Full disclosure: I’m a friend of Jeff’s. But I’d say this regardless.

Some of the reaction has been predictable. Mike Ditka, a hothead and occasional buffoon, said he’d spit on Pearlman if he saw him. Nice, Iron Mike. Way to add to the discussion. Besides, it was, after all, Ditka who handed Payton one of Payton’s greatest humiliations when he refused to let Payton score in the Super Bowl XX blowout of New England instead allowing Refrigerator Perry to make a mockery of things. See, when Ditka had his chance to honor Payton, he behaved petulantly, now, years later, he’s got Payton’s back.

I see.

The problem here isn’t Pearlman. The problem is twofold: you and me. Longtime NFL writers like me did a disservice to readers by portraying Payton as an infallible human being when no such thing exists. We didn’t provide a three-dimensional portrait. Pearlman does and he does so not in a tabloid manner – again, read the book – but in a professional, almost elegant way.

You, the reader, are also the issue. You demand that athletes be real, that they step from behind their publicists and carefully crafted images, but when many of them (not all) refuse, you don’t care. You still blindly follow. Some of you are hypocrites.

I want to know what athletes are really like because I like information and what I chose to do with that information is up to me. I now understand what Payton was really like and it doesn’t alter my opinion of him one bit. I still think he was an elite runner. I still think he was an overall good person. I still like him.

Pearlman tells us about all of the outstanding things Payton did as a football player and man but he also shows us the warts. Not only is there nothing wrong with that I’d say it’s necessary.

Let’s be grownups about this and not shrink this discussion into the simplistic nonsense we see all across our culture today. Payton was a highly nuanced man, it turns out, and thus this book is a highly nuanced look at him.

Spit on Pearlman? We should be patting him on the back.

 

 

Category: NFL
Comments

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: October 2, 2011 11:18 am
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

Freeman - you're obvious part of today's media who sees NO boundaries about invading people's privacy - UNLESS they're associated with YOUR company, family, or personal life.

Before you pat someone on the back about exposing Walter Payton's private life, let's see some real dirt on CBS employees like: Marino, Esiason, Sharpe, Cowher, Casserly, Brown, Prisco, Judge, Richard, Eisenberg, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, Marv Albert and Rich Gannon, Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots, Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker, Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein.

Out of all them there's surely dirt about which you, Freeman, will do NOTHING except kept quiet and dirt already known about which you, Freeman, will not pour salt into the wound.  And you won't expose problems with major celebrities on other networks for fear they'll retaliate.

Look at all the personal exposes done on "The View" on ABC and at ABCNews.com, but there wasn't a single word published about Barbara Walters' slip of admitting to having one night stands with men.  And CBS, etc. didn't touch it either, did you?  But you tell us Walter Payton had affairs and pat on the back the guy who dug up the information!

That makes you a hypocrite when it comes to congratulating someone for exposing private things that have no effect on someone's athletic performance.



Since: Jan 29, 2007
Posted on: October 2, 2011 4:46 am
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

Mike Ditka is a world class buffoon. I watched that SB at a friend's house and I was too busy playing with Hot Wheels to notice that Ditka dissed Payton by letting Perry run the ball in. I saw Perry run the ball in, but didn't fully understand the situation...since I was only 14 at the time.

One thing I do know...Ditka is a buffoon. Did I say that already? Good! I will say it again. Ditka is a buffoon. My last memory of Ditka was when he had traded an entire year's worth of draft picks to get Ricky Williams. If that wasn't crazy enough Ditka then went on to sport a very hideous looking dredlock hairpiece and was dancing in a wedding dress. Or was that Ricky Williams? (Yes, I know it was Williams!) I bet people would be surprised to learn the true persona of the man known as Iron Mike. 
The very least you could do when commenting on a piece about Walter Payton, would be to MENTION Walter Payton in your drivel. Why would anyone care what you think of Mike Ditka?



Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:54 am
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

Hate to bring this up, but I have long considered the idea that Walter Payton used performance enhancing drugs. His history shows some of the characteristics of PED users, notably enhanced perfromance and extreme consistency over a very long period of time. And he died young of a strange disease. Before you flip the race card consider that other likely or admitted PED users have died young -- Lyle Alzado, John Matuszak, Ken Caminiti, Rick Rude (Roode) and others.

Some have questioned how we know that old time athletes were not PED users. The answer is, we don't. Synthetic anabolic steroids were developed in the 1930s. But synthetic steroids simply mimic the effect of natural testicular extract, which had been available since the 1890s. And how do we know that some long-forgotten drugs or patent formulas were not effective perfromance enhancers? We don't know that either.



Since: Jul 26, 2011
Posted on: October 1, 2011 3:48 pm
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

We have MLB playoffs and the NFL season going on.  NBA players are taking contracts overseas.  Hockey is always there I guess.  You couldn't find anything else to talk about except Walter Payton.  (After you spent time on Pryor)  Sweetness was a football player that made the game enjoyable.  Could care less about his marriage.  So who is next on your "public smear" list?  Why not try to write something interesting about sports and stop with your TMZ reporting.




Since: Nov 28, 2006
Posted on: October 1, 2011 1:38 am
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

I have officially put this book on my Christmas Wish List and I thank Jeff Pearlman for putting three years of his life into this effort.

If the Payton family had a problem with this I am sure they would have declined to be a part of the 700 or so interviewed. I am sure that if the Bears players had any issues they wouldn't have participated. Biographies need to be done honestly or not at all and biographies are great reads great sharings of experience.

Would the Bobby Jones story be proper if we somehow weren't exposed to his challenge with anger management on the golf course. I guess all we are supposed to know about Babe Ruth has to do with the home runs. Both of those icons have survived nicely as will Walter Payton. Maybe some are supposed to live in ignorance of the deeds and misdeeds of one Tiger Woods, but why, when we have the capacity to accept and forgive if we feel it's necessary. Does having some understanding and compassion and celebration for Walter Payton as this book is not make us all better.

I think Mike Ditka might be carrying some kind of shame to react the way he has with his comment.

If anything Jeff Pearlmans account of Walter Paytons life will over time help us all have a deeper appreciation and gratitude for what he gave as a football player and human being. If anything what I've heard about Walter Payton through comments about this book make him seem more like the rest of us and thus his legacy that much more meaningful.



Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: October 1, 2011 12:51 am
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

Mike Ditka is a world class buffoon. I watched that SB at a friend's house and I was too busy playing with Hot Wheels to notice that Ditka dissed Payton by letting Perry run the ball in. I saw Perry run the ball in, but didn't fully understand the situation...since I was only 14 at the time.

One thing I do know...Ditka is a buffoon. Did I say that already? Good! I will say it again. Ditka is a buffoon. My last memory of Ditka was when he had traded an entire year's worth of draft picks to get Ricky Williams. If that wasn't crazy enough Ditka then went on to sport a very hideous looking dredlock hairpiece and was dancing in a wedding dress. Or was that Ricky Williams? (Yes, I know it was Williams!) I bet people would be surprised to learn the true persona of the man known as Iron Mike. 



Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:20 pm
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

I'm very torn on this. It doesn't sound like Aaron Carter saying that Michael Jackson molested him after Jackson's death, but it certainly sounds like a lot of people are offended by this. I'm all for free speech and I think there should be some measure of appreciation from the public for the insight into a man's life. But everyone's entitled to their privacy and I always prefer if the subject is around to respond or contribute. This is kinda like the Michael Vick thing this past week, the public's basically gonna be split down the middle. I guess I'm okay with this book, as I suspend judgment on this one until I hear more. It doesn't help the critics that hammerhead Mike Ditka is on their side...I kinda hate that guy



Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 7:55 pm
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

You can hide from the truth all you want, but there is more and more evidence coming out that shows this sport takes a real toll on the human body, not to mention the toll it takes on the mind.  If people want to reamain too cowardly to talk about these things openly, we are doing nothing to help the next generation of players from the same fate.  How does that bennifit anyone?
Dude, my objection has nothing to do with hiding from the truth. Retired players have made no secret about the toll football takes on their body and there is an article written weekly on this very site highlighting this problem. What I have a  problem with is using the notoriety and fame of one it's greatest players and attacking his character post-humously. Freeman wrote in this article that he new Payton, but obviously not very well. Well, maybe because that is the way Payton wanted it. Also, how does football make you cheat on your spouse? Everyone has skeletons in their closet and everyone has the right to not divulge those skeletons if it doesn't hurt or affect anyone but themselves. And as stated prior, Walter Payton was never imprisoned or arrested for anything, the were no sex tapes, steroid scandals, or public moments of shame in his life. So what gives this guy the right to try to bring them to light now, especially while his family will still be affected?



Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: September 30, 2011 7:11 pm
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

It's obvious you are a friend of the author as you begin your third party rationalization of a despicable and unnecessary expose into the late Walter Payton's life. You obviously do not have any children or you might consider the feelings of Payton's before issuing a blanket defense of the airing of a very private man's dirty laundry. Suffice it to say that your over the top arrogance in presuming that Payton's fans were oblivious to his flaws was yet another slap across the face to the largest part of Payton's football legacy; his fans and their undying respect for not only his athletic prowess, competitiveness and class, but also the dignity he displayed as he awaited his inevitable death. As you began... You knew Payton, but obviously not well enough. I agree because it is obvious none of his eloquence or class seems to have had an affect on you. You may believe that drudging up the sordid details of an icon are justified by your view that journalism's first responsibility is to the truth. You may even believe that by endorsing a book that pulls no punches adds to your Journalistic credibility. I see such intrusions as selfserving with no noble purpose.  I see your friend's book and your defense of it as a shortsighted attack on the memory of a man that defined class and dignity. It's a pity you can't.



Since: Apr 28, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 5:35 pm
 

The Daily Shoutout: The new Walter Payton bio

I always have a tough time agreeing with an author when the subject cannot defend himself.  I already knew Payton was not perfect.   All I know for sure was for 3 hours on most fall Sunday afternoons  between 74-87, I think, he was a huge headache for defenses.  And he accomplished more than 95% of the world's population, and 99% of the Pro Football population.  Not bad for a lifetime, and this coming from a confirmed Packer fan to hates the Bears.  Walter is still the man!  Period!  Saddly he is no longer with us!


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