On July 25, 1954, legendary Chicago Bear’s running back Walter Payton was born in Columbia, Mississippi.
Peyton attended Jackson State University where he played half back as a starter his freshman year, 1971. He had an extraordinary college career. He started all four years and broke nine school records. He scored 464 points in his four years, and with that he grasped a NCAA record. Unfortunately, he was never awarded the Heisman Trophy. The closest he ever got was fourth overall when the votes were tallied in 1974. There were high expectations off the field as well. He was studying education, specifically focusing on working with the deaf. There was always a soft spot in his heart for helping people.
The Chicago Bears drafted Payton in 1975. Nobody knew it at the time but he would stay with the franchise for all 13 years of his career. He also played a major role in the 1985 championship season. Head Coach Mike Ditka’s biggest regret was not letting Chicago’s greatest offensive weapon score during the big game.
Payton was honored by College Football in 1987 when the Most Valuable Player Trophy for Division I-AA was put in his name. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Even after he died from cancer on November 1, 1999, his charitable legacy lives on through his wife who heads the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation.