Ditka not happy with author of Walter Payton bio


Plenty of folks aren’t happy with Jeff Pearlman, author of a new Walter Payton biography.  The book contends that Payton abused painkillers after retiring from the NFL, had extramarital affairs, and contemplated suicide.

Among the displeased?  Former Bears coach Mike Ditka.

So what would Ditka do to Pearlman?  “I’d spit on him,” Ditka told NBCChicago. “I have no respect for him. . . .

“Pathetic.  Despicable.  It serves no purpose.”

Ditka believes that Pearlman, whose other books focused on topics like Barry Bonds and the Cowboys of the 1990s, was motivated by a desire to sell the book.  Pearlman believes he is simply telling the truth.

“When we present people as a sort of athletic cliché, and this golden guy who had no flaws whatsoever, I think we do people a disservice,” Pearlman told NBCChicago.  “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with knowing that a person was flawed.  I don’t think anything is wrong with knowing that a guy suffered through severe depression after his playing career was over, after he spent 13 years brutalizing his body . . . and living and dying with football and then it all of a sudden comes to an end and he doesn’t know what to do with his life.”

Regardless, the book is getting plenty of attention based upon allegations that undermine the longstanding image of Walter Payton.  And those allegations will make the book controversial, and it will prompt those who loved him to react negatively, regardless of whether the allegations are accurate.

103 responses to “Ditka not happy with author of Walter Payton bio

  1. I get the authors point but thats no excuse to slander one of the league’s most respect players

    its like writing a book claiming that George Patton enjoyed crossdressing

  2. As I said in the other post, Perlman should work in tabloids. That’s his calling, and really, the only thing he evidently wants to be known for.

  3. So what would Ditka do to Pearlman? “I’d spit on him,” Ditka told NBCChicago. “I have no respect for him. . . .
    He spits on people when he talks anyway. I don’t understand the big deal.

  4. Walter Payton played 13 years as the featured back with a minimum of 20+ carries per game. Most of those years were without a quality Quarter Back which meant the defenses keyed in on him. I don’t know what else you want from the man. Obviously, that wasn’t enough for Pearlman,

  5. A lot of people in Chicago knew Connie & Walter were pretty much separated at the end. No one is naive regarding male athletes & women. What sucks about Pearlman is his need to drag this out along with the painkiller/drug abuse. That was purely salacious & only used to sell books.

    Payton is an icon here. If you ask most longtime Bears fans, they put Payton in the same category of reverence as Jordan.

    I hope Pearlman runs into Ditka…I believe that he would spit on him, & rightfully so.

  6. this guys a scumbag putting this book out. purely about money.

    i dont care if its true or not, i dont want to hear it about one of the best to ever play

  7. I’m sorry if you guys are looking for a happy ending. Life isn’t a movie. If this stuff is fact, than this guy was just doing has job.

  8. Doesn’t impact WP’s career one iota. Nor does it impact who he was as a person. The guy was a 20+ carry a game RB. His career beat him up physically. I hope whatever he took eased his pain and made the rest of his life better than it would have been otherwise, and I’m very sorry he died so young.

  9. i don’t understand. is the book full of lies? is it in dispute? because if it isn’t, what is the big deal? walter payton is a historical figure. people are going to write books about him. mike ditka too. and by the way, who cares if he got hooked on pain killers and contemplated suicide. that’s not so shocking.

  10. The author’s quote is great; why do people project perfectness onto great athletes, performers, etc? They are just as flawed as everyone else, perhaps more so. I don’t need my athletes to be moral icons; I can find that elsewhere. If I found out that Joe Montana did X,Y, and Z, I would regard that as none of my business and wouldn’t let it affect my view of him as an all time great.

    I am not going to read this book, but people who care to should have the option of knowing other aspects of his life besides football so long as those aspects are TRUE. Still, you have got to like Mike’s reaction.

    Disclaimer: I do not know anything about Pearlman’s works. If what he says is false, than he deserves far more than just spit.

  11. While I understand those who are close to Payton being upset, I’m not sure what the big deal is quite honestly.

    If you’re opinion of Walter Payton the football player is altered by this revelation then that’s unfortunate. As fans we get too involved in the personal lives of athletes.

    Cheer for what they do on the field, and let them be off the field. I’m sure there are people that visit this site and plenty of journalists/bloggers that have suffered through some issues similar to Payton. Doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human. It’s too bad that just because they are famous it becomes a big deal.

    Shame that he wrote it, but it shouldn’t alter anyone’s view of the man. RIP

  12. I don’t care if any of this stuff is true, it won’t change how I feel about Walter Payton! On second hand… maybe I feel more empathy for this once great back who probably did struggle after leaving the game… Hey, If Walter Payton struggled with any of these allegations that happen to people so often in life then he will have my 100% understanding regardless.

    Being a Viking fan, I hated the Chicago Bears and oh how Walter Payton was a nightmare… But man, did I ever have respect for sweetness.

    I know Walter was visibly scared when he announced on TV that he had some form of cancer… I could see it in his eyes how fragile he was just like everyone else. I felt for him then and I feel for him now even more so… You never know, it maybe Walter Paytons wish that the truth be told.
    Rest in Peace great one…

  13. Even if some of this is true, it doesn’t take away from all the good he did, the guy had an award for charity named after him for a reason.

  14. Everything in that book is likely true. If you need a hero, pick Barry Sanders–he was smart enough to retire before his body and mind fell to bits.

    Ditka should spit on himself–he likely shares some of the blame for how this story ended.

  15. There’s no reason to write a book about the flaws of a dead legend, not these days. It’s an attention/money grab for Pearlman. Maybe the day after he dies someone will go public with the fact that Pearlman was a bed wetter till he was 17 years old. Give me a freaking break

  16. @ gordon … here here…. everyone in popular and everyday culture has their foibles…. Who is one individual to point out another… When good people spark good things in a Great many people, focus on that, not trying to sully a culture of admiration….

  17. Sad. Why does someone have to write a book to destroy one’s legacy and family.

    Everyone has demons but this crosses the line.

    Not a Bears fan but sweetness was a class act!

  18. Think about this scenario. Pearlman decidesto write a biography of Payton. Then, while researching and interviewing people for his book, he finds out some of these issues that Payton had (drugs, infidelity, etc…).

    Should he be expected to lie or omit those issues from the biography? Should he be expected to abandon the project altogether simply because he finds these things out about Payton.

    And what are we really talking about here? Drugs and depression doesn’t change the fact that Payton was a great football player and a good and inspirational man.

  19. As a lifetime Packer fan and Bear hater I would like to say to the author: Get bent… Payton is an all time great, and he’s dead… Ditka is right, this serves NO purpose…. Walter Payton: the greatest running back I have ever watched!

  20. Let’s not go crazy with a couple of blurbs from the bio. We all have done things we’re not proud of. It wouldn’t be a very good biography if it was only the good and none of the bad.

    Maybe he was portraying Sweetness as a human with flaws and not some superhero that none of us could aspire to be.

  21. A star athlete, that got his body abused for years, and later has to battle cancer gets hooked on pain-killers… whodathunk it? Seriously.. the salaciousness of his personal relationship with his wife are just attention grabbers… and I guess they are working because people are discussing this… but honestly, who cares? Unfortunately, the man has been gone too long…. but I as a child growing up in Illinois will forever remember the Bears offense as Payton Right, Payton Left, Payton up the middle, white boy punt… and I never saw any runner work harder for every yard he got.. behind some pretty crappy lines too.

  22. I just finished reading his first book “The Bad Guys Won” about the ’86 Mets. It wasn’t nearly as shocking or entertaining as I thought. A good read though.

  23. Also I am sure Payton had some problems. We all do, But Pearlman is being a complete jerk. Payton was a good decent man, who did alot of good things for people.

  24. Keep in mind Pearlman is also the guy who as a baseball Hall of Fame voter publicly stated & defended his choice to not vote for Jeff Bagwell because he thinks he did steroids, not KNOWS he did steroids, THINKS.

  25. I shed a tear when I heard of Walter Payton passing so young. I loved this guy as a player and the way he conducted himself as a man.
    I will always remember him that way. I will not read the book.

  26. Pearlman believes he is simply telling the truth.

    “When we present people as a sort of athletic cliché, and this golden guy who had no flaws whatsoever, I think we do people a disservice,” Pearlman told NBCChicago. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with knowing that a person was flawed.


    Really? In this day and age are there really that many people who believe athletes are or were “golden guys” with no flaws, and they need to be awakened by the truth?

    What “disservice” has actually taken place when we only speak good of a person? And what service does this enlightenment provide?

    Everyone has flaws and failures. Could you imagine if we all were held to Pearlman’s standard of disclosure? “Hi, I’m Joe. I stole bubble gum from the corner store when I was in the third grade, I cheated on a math test in eighth, made some false deductions on my taxes a few times and most recently spent hours on PFT while my employer is paying me to work.”
    And most of us would have a worse resume’ leading to people staying clear of us.

    If we revealed the inner most backrounds and faults to all of our potential heroes our kids wouldn’t have anyone to look up to. There would be no one for them to aspire to be.

    Heroe worshiping doesn’t serve a purpose, but finding someone who achieved greatness, overcame challenges or displayed kindness or goodness to others can inspire our children to attain the same. It’s the positives of a person that encourages following generations to do the same.

    Pearlman’s disclosure serve’s no purpose whether it is true or not. In fact, he is the one providing the disservice.

  27. I’m unhappy with Pearlman. This book was written as a simple money grab…cheap sensationalism in a hard cover. I don’t CARE if Walter used painkillers. I am a disabled vet, and I use them, and god knows, I might be damaged from Vietnam, but I’m willing to bet Walter’s 13 years in pro football damaged him just as much, so if he was taking what I do, good for him.

    As far as Ditka’s comments, Mike speaks his mind, always. His players were his sons, and if someone wrote a book about my son like Pearlman’s, spitting might be a lot better option than what I’d do.

    Walter Payton was a good person and a great football player. Honor him and don’t buy the book, don’t read the SI article, and don’t support the sort of sleazy money-grubbing that this kind of thing represents.

    And thank you, Maggie Hendricks, for your quiet touch of sanity on Twitter.

  28. Greatest all around RB of all time.

    Don’t read this sensationalist trash.

    Instead pickup
    Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton

  29. It is a biography. A biography is supposed to reveal the life of its subject. It is, what it is.

    It’s not supposed to be an old western serial, where Billy the Kid kills twenty men, saves all the virgins, and fights off 10 grizzly bears.

    It’s a book about the life of Walter Payton. Deal with it.

  30. bobulated, Actually Coach Ditka has said he regrets not letting Payton score that TD instead of the fridge.

    As for the Payton alligations, I never understood the need for people to make hero’s or rolemodels out of athletes and holding them up to impossible standards. I don’t know if any of what is in the book is true or not but I do know that it doesn’t matter to me. I will always respect what Payton did on the field and the way he went about it.

  31. This book will change no opinions on Sweetness.

    But you Ditka YOU YES YOU denied Walter a TD in SB XX but called William “TUB OF GOO” Perry’s number for a rushing TD in a 46-10 win.
    You couldn’t get him one TD? Nice decision coach Why don’t you just get lazy during a draft and trade away all your picks for 1 guy?

  32. if it’s true, it’s not slander. as a packers fan, sweetness is the only bear i can appreciate, yet, if it’s true, then why is this guy wrong? payton played in a time when this stuff wasn’t talked about. we now talk about this sort of thing. my favorite player as a kid was marcus allen and i later found out he may or may not be a total a-hole in real life. that only makes me not want to know him in person which i never would have anyway..

  33. Did any of the pompous bloviators here read the book or any of the excerpts? Oh, yes, stupid question: these are NFL fans, the kind of folks who’d have trouble getting through “Cat In The Hat”.

    Like many, many former NFL stars, Payton’s life after football was not pretty or happy, regardless of what the moronic Mike Ditka might have you believe. He was a deeply troubled guy who, sadly, died way too young due to a terrible illness. If anyone deserves to be castigated, it’s Ditka: a ridiculous blowhard still riding the coattails of a team he coached 26 years ago. Now he wants to “spit on” someone who authored a factual account of a famous football player, wow, what a class act. Does “Iron Mike” also want to “spit on” those who chronicle Dave Duerson’s or William Perry’s sad post Bears lives? Ditka is no more than a paid NFL cheerleader, anything he says has to be taken in context.

  34. All these ass clowns that say Ditka screwed Payton out of a Super Bowl TD are football stupid.

    Jim McMahon audibled out of two calls for Payton and rushed them in himself.

    So that’s on Ditka?

  35. abused pain killers, had an affair, and was suicidal. You could insert about 50% of the NFL players names in there and it is probably right. Leave the guy alone

  36. Mike Ditka on one day wants you to donate money to retired players who apparently have all sorts on injuries.
    However, when a legend like Payton, who’s football career may have led to a shortened lifespan, he wants to spit on the man who’s telling the story.

  37. So what if he was addicted to painkillers. Here is a little story about painkillers for ya. I am 38 yrs old. I went through life without ever touching drugs until age 29. Well my daddy left mama when I was 8, & she was severely mentally ill, couldn’t provide for us very well, so after struggling for 8 yrs, at age 16, I got my 1st job in textiles, which is a glamorous name for a damn cotton mill! I would continue to work from then on, proudly though, as I never resorted to crime or anything illegal to make my way. I have always been proud of that fact but all the hard work didn’t come without consequence, as I developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, arthritis in most of my joints, & at age 29 I would need surgery. My Dr. started giving me painkillers, and I thought I was on top of the world, I was working pain free! Until 5 yrs later I couldn’t function without them, and depression set in, and now I was an addict, who was depressed & suicidal thoughts consumed me! Until I found out my son was coming in 2007 I was addicted to painkillers, but otherwise a respectable young man. I really rushed through this trying to make a point. Very respectable and good people become addicts, but it makes them no less a man. So what if he abused painkillers, until you run a yard in his shoes don’t judge him! Being an addict sometimes happens to good people who are having a hard time, but it don’t make them bad people.

  38. Ditka is right you do not trash people who are dead and cannott defend themselves whose reputations were flawless. It was flawless because the guy had great character which is why his son has a tatoo of his father on his arm. Lets just for a second say he did take painkillers o.k. yes I am sure they were prescribed and yes I am sure he was in pain. That is normal to take a painkiller if you endured the kind of punishment he took and gave that took a toll on his body. Who is this guy to say he abused them; exactly this guy should be spit on and Ditka is right. See where Ditka is smart as am I; spitting on the guys reputation through words is what Ditka is referring too as well. Showing that this guy is scum dissing someone with great character just to sell a book yeah that guy is scum and Ditka spit on him with words as am I. Good job Ditka a father should take up for his son. Now we have exposed the loser social deviant author. May you and your flawless reputation live forever Walter no one cares what this idiot is saying it does not tarnish you at all and frankly no one believes a word of this guys b.s. and if you took pills you were prescribed then that is o.k.

  39. Pick a player from 1970 until now. There is a good chance he did steroids. Write a book. Journalism? I guess, but pretty weak in my opinion. I obviously haven’t read the book but from the publicity I’ve read, I’m glad that steroids isn’t the drug I heard about. Pearlman is an idiot, but he is the kind of idiot who makes money with pop culture. At least the books he sells won’t be read, cause who buys these kinds of books and actually reads books anymore. This will be on the shelf next to Slash’s and Anthony Kiedis’s biography. I looked up Pearlman after hearing about this and saw his first book was something like, “The Bad Guy’s Won” about the 1980’s Mets. I hate this Joe Buck/Rick Reilly/ ESPN/Fox morality play that is so much a part of sports now. I see in comments on websites like this site, and read that the fans don’t care for it- why do we get fed it over and over again. I love Walter, the best total football player of all time.A great person. He has done, and in death still does, so much for Chicago. His family has literally made a difference in peoples lives in one of the only midwestern cities that still has its head above water(not sure for how long, but still). A hero to Chicago children during the 80’s. A hero to football fans forever. And finally, Pearlman shows his colors through and through- Dykstra-Bonds- Clemens- Payton? Like an SAT test prep question. I dream of a future where Pearlman is the one who doesn’t fit. I hope you go away Pearlman, not for ripping Sweetness, but for having nothing to really say. RIP Walter.

  40. the portrayal of Payton as a relentless worker as well as a great person inspires people to want to have those same qualities.

    regardless of who he really was (which is really none of our business), why would you want to tarnish this image?

    This guy is selling his soul by making a buck off of somebody else’s hardships, and then wants to justify it by saying that he’s doing everybody a service by airing out Walter’s business? What benefit does humanity have to gain by knowing he took painkillers?

    Either way, as a die-hard bears fan as well as a huge fan of walter, this will do nothing to change my perception of him and I feel sorry for anybody who spends their money on this book.

  41. I won’t read the book. I think the book shouldn’t have been published to begin with. Pearlman is just looking to make money on the life/and death of a legend. No matter, some things should be left alone..

  42. I’m writing Jeff Pearlman’s biography. It’ll be a short book, but meaningful none the less.
    “Jeff was an @$$hole. In 2013 he chose to write a biography about Pat Tillman when he had an unfortunate run in with a table saw and both of his hands were removed. He retired shortly after and never spoke a slanderous word in his entire life. The end.”

  43. “When we present people as a sort of athletic cliché, and this golden guy who had no flaws whatsoever, I think we do people a disservice,” Pearlman told NBCChicago. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with knowing that a person was flawed.
    So it’s ok to discuss the private affairs and unfortunate decisions and choices of others to better yourself financially, because that is exactly what is going on here.

    Was Walter flawed, yes, as we all are. However, that’s not for me or anyone else to judge and should surely not be used for financial gain.

  44. It’s easy to attack someone who isn’t alive to defend himself. There is a reason the NFL has a Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award. It’s probably because he was a role model, regardless of imperfections. Pearlman can pimp out his book but at the end of the day my kid, like probably thousands of others, chose the number 34 in honor of “sweetness.” when he started playing football. Pearlman won’t be remembered as anything other than an opportunist.

  45. why anyone would buy anything by Jeff Pearlman is beyond me. I mean its very obvious this guy just has an axe to grind. He clearly upset with something, maybe he couldnt make the team in highschool so to make up for his short comings we get books full of hatred. The best way to shut a guy like this up and just dont buy the book and do what i did. I dropped my SI subscription and if enough people do that this guy loses his resources to spew his hatred

  46. “When we present people as a sort of athletic cliché, and this golden guy who had no flaws whatsoever, I think we do people a disservice,” Pearlman told NBCChicago. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with knowing that a person was flawed.”
    The words of a gutless muck-raker. Pearlman should write his next book about somebody who can kick his ass or sue it off. To write a hit-piece book that serves no purpose but to line his pockets is nothing but shallow greed. Twenty years from now Walter Payton will still be remembered. Jeff Pearlman? Not so much.

  47. footballisfun says:
    Sep 29, 2011 9:41 PM
    It is a biography. A biography is supposed to reveal the life of its subject. It is, what it is.

    It’s not supposed to be an old western serial, where Billy the Kid kills twenty men, saves all the virgins, and fights off 10 grizzly bears.

    It’s a book about the life of Walter Payton. Deal with it.

    My problem is, from what I’ve heard, the book says nothing of his childhood, college years, or most of Payton’s professional years. Obviously I have yet to read the book, but the only thing I’ve heard about the book and the way it’s being marketed is that it is a biography of only part of his life.

    All this book will do is cause unwarranted controversy and undermine all the good Payton did in his life. No matter what he did, part of the story doesn’t come close to telling to the whole truth.

    For it to be a biography, wouldn’t it have to detail his entire life? Due to the fact it only details, and nothing said has been proven, it really can’t be considered a biography. Which goes to prove that this is just a money grab and doing what our current society loves to do best, tear down those who are famous because you are not them.

  48. When I was a kid, I had a poster on my wall; it was Michael Jordan, Andre Dawson, and Walter Payton, all dressed in tuxedos but holding a basketball, baseball bat, and football. Pretty badass.

    Anyone else have that poster?

    Also, Jeff Pearlman is a jackass.

  49. Payton, Sayers and Singletary, class acts, great players. Sir Walter deserved to carry the ball and score in the Super Bowl. Sorry Coach, you messed up on that one big time.

  50. once upon a time, our nations consensus values rejected the impropiety of making a buck at any cost. No, sweetness was not a sacred icon, but his family and close friends hardly need to have this painful chapter reopened. What happened to us, that we lust after this kind of crap?

  51. Really? Everyone is piling on Pearlman for telling the truth but worshipping Payton for living a life of lies? Pearlman is not tarnishing anyone’s reputation. We tarnish our own reputation when we cheat on our wives and abuse substances. I want the truth told about me when I’m gone – either my daughter will be proud to know that her Dad was a good man or she’ll learn from my mistakes and be a better person.. No lies or cover-ups about me, please. Or does Payton get a free pass on being a cheater and an addict because he was really good at PLAYING A GAME. We reap what we sow. Props to Pearlman for not drinking the kool-aid of blind hero-worship – and for interviewing 600+ people before he wrote his book.

  52. Walter is one of the few heroes from my childhood. The revelation that he was human is not very astonishing.

    That said… I hope each and every “truthy teller” journalist out there is more than willing to have their personal lives aired to the public. Because, the few times I’ve read such things, they squeal like stuck pigs and scream about harassment and “First Amendment rights!!! LOLOLOL!!!” – with no real understanding of what that right actually is.

    So, my hope for you, Jeff Pearlman, is that when… sordid details about you may be aired, you take it like a man. Like the man you wrote about…

  53. Opinions are like ass holes. Every writer has one.

    In 1939 Adolf Hitler was chosen as Time Magazine’s “Man Of The Year” by a panel of writers.

    There was a time in history where writers only looked at the good in a person and ignored the bad.

    Today… Too many writers spend their time looking at the bad aspects of a person instead of the good.

    The writers were wrong in 1939 by writing about the good, and they are still wrong 72 years after the fact, by writing about the bad.

    Walter Payton will always be a man I admire.

  54. “Pathetic. Despicable. It serves no purpose.”

    Exactly, the only possible purpose is money for Pearlman.

  55. I don’t understand all the venom directed toward the author. Did he actually say to himself “Gee, I hope I can go out and prove that Walter Payton was a womanizing, doctor shopping, drug addict so I can sell a bunch of books” or is it more likely that these were revelations that came to light once he started doing research and interviews in an effort to the complete story of the man? I don’t see many claiming the allegations were false. Walter would certainly not be the first man to fall victim to some of the temptations that come with fame. Is it surprising that one who might have ingested what seems to be a great many chemicals would develop liver disease?

    Anyone who ever watched Walter Payton play realizes that he paid a high price to excel at the game of football. It seems that we had no idea how very, very high that price really was.

  56. Pretty easy to pick on a guy whose been dead for 15 years!! I know football players are fallible human beings…but what purpose does it serve to bring up these allegations when the individual has been dead and buried all these years? Frankly, it seems pretty sleazy to me.

  57. True or not to write this now without Sweetness alive to reply to these comments appears cowardly to me. If Pearlman knew all this before Walter’s passing he should have written it then. This guy is a tabloid caliber POS either way.

  58. As a Viking fan, I’ve never cared for the Bears, but Ditka is right on this. Pearlman comes across like a desperate author seeking attention and cash. If Pearlman had permission from Payton’s family to release this book, then I’d have no problem with it. But to do this to his family when he’s no longer around to defend himself? That is inexcusable.

    If Payton developed an addiction to painkillers or had family problems after his football life ended, that is between him and his family and his doctors. Payton didn’t seek employment in the media after his football life, nor did he go out and seek attention for himself.

    What is Walter Payton’s legacy? He was the best RB of his era, and one could argue of all time. He weighed 10-20 lbs less than just about all the other great RBs who he passed on the all-time rushing list, yet he ran like Adrian Peterson runs today. It’d be no surprise at all if, after 13 years of that, he’d have issues with pain later in life. For Pearlman to trash that legacy for the sole purpose of profit is deplorable beyond words.

    The only reason Pearlman is doing this is for himself, as he is the only person who stands to benefit from it. I hope this book loses money for the publisher.

  59. Can we leave the “Payton not getting a TD” thing alone? Is that all people remember from that SB? I like Payton too, but it’s not a travesty. Bears won and its a team sport. I see nothing wrong with the Fridge getting a TD because they did that sort of play all year. Didn’t McMahon have a couple of short TD runs?

  60. Ditka should have punched him in the mouth.

    Have you seen a picture of this Efn dweeb.

    here’s Pearlmans Bio summed up in 1 sentence.

    He was always the Last PERSON picked in a coed Gym class !!

    BTW, I’m not even a Chicago fan, but I’ll always be fan of great players.

  61. Life is funny. Because we perceive Walter a a good guy, nobody wants the book to come out. Yet we hammer guys today for the same things this book alleges Walter did, and no one would fight for their cause. If athletes were covered the same way back then as they are today, maybe even Payton wouldn’t be the “same guy” in our eyes. Personally, I have no use for a book like this whether the good is guy or bad, but this is America and the author has rights as well.

  62. If you want to write a book about Payton that includes only the good stuff we already know, do it. And let us know how that works out for you. Payton was a public figure, and is subject to biographies just like any other public figure. Is that so hard to figure out? If you don’t like it, don’t read it. But, don’t tell me or anyone else what they can read.

  63. blackheld says:
    Sep 29, 2011 9:36 PM
    I’m unhappy with Pearlman. This book was written as a simple money grab…cheap sensationalism in a hard cover.

    Have you read the book? Do you know for absolute certainty that the book is just cheap sensationalism and not an overall positive portrayal of the man that contains some mention of difficulties he had after football?

    You seem pretty sure of yourself, so I will assume you did actually read the book and are not just jumping to conclusions based upon a few media stories.

  64. Anyone read that relatively new Mickey Mantle bio? Everyone seemed to love his alcohol abuse and extramarital affairs. It’s basically what glorified him. And everyone is disgusted with the fact that Payton had some problems? What’s the guy supposed to do, leave out that part of bio just because it’s not flattering?

  65. if these people knew ditka as well as they claim,this is not news to them.Dikta is a worn out ole fool anyway!
    he should retire and spend his money instead of giving stupid speesches on the sport that passed him by years ago!remember coach,payton did’nt score in the superbowl because you choose to let the fridge score over him!walter payton will still be regarded as the best player in league history no matter what this book says by the people who loved him regardless and by the fans!he’ll always be a hero in my book!

  66. 1) attention = sales
    2) sales = money
    3) I’ve subscribed to SI for years. In the last few years as their photography has gotten better the writing is worse. This last piece, which received the blessing of the Editor Terry McDonell in glowing terms, is the last straw. I’m just going to let my subscription expire. SI used to be THE standard for ethical journalism and those days are long gone.

    fwippel – “To do this to his family when he’s no longer around to defend himself. That’s inexcusable.”

    Well said. Thanks

  67. Nobody asked me but:

    In athletics when a team beats the s..t out of another team – that happens. But when the team rubs the other team’s nose in it – they are cursed.

    1986 Super Bowl – 4th quarter – Bears are way ahead and they get to the Patriot 2 yard line. Let Payton score? No. Ditka sends in Perry and he scores – Rubbing it in.

    After the game Ditka was quoted as saying “they didn’t even belong on the same field with us.” Probably true but you DON’T say that aloud.
    There was easily enough talent on that team to win at least one more Super Bowl. Ever since? Not a one. (I’ve been watching pro football for more than 50 years and that 1985 team is the

    1992 – Notre Dame beats the s..t out of BC in South Bend and rubs it in with a fake punt in the 2nd half. Then they stand on the sideline having a good laugh about it. All the while BC players are standing watching them. We all know what happened the next year, and ND has not been the same since.

  68. History demands the truth! What kind of message does it send if we sugarcoat it? So what if JFK wandered? Are we supposed to stumble through life deluding ourselves about the vagaries of life? Tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may.

  69. Why are people “disgusted” by this? Because he died? Because you had a poster of him on your wall as a kid? Gimme a break. Biographies are supposed to tell the entire story—not just the good parts. I’m still amazed when people over the age of 30 haven’t come to grips with the fact that their “heroes” aren’t/weren’t good people. Grow the f#$@k up.

  70. joetoronto says:
    Sep 30, 2011 6:12 AM
    “Pathetic. Despicable. It serves no purpose.”

    Exactly, the only possible purpose is money for Pearlman.

    That’s why writers write books. A love of research, an interest in the topic, and a remote grasp of english and grammar can lead to a nice payday.

    The problem is that most folks don’t want to see negatives written about someone so universally loved, admired and respected. It may require reading the book to see if he’s truly dragging Sweetness through the mud. Personally I don’t care what anyone says about Payton posthumously, I saw him as a lion amongst mere men.

  71. If Mike Ditka said that Perlman’s book was a lie, I would believe it. Ditka didn’t say that! Every needs to grow up! Wonderful people do stupid things at times. Just like despicable people sometimes do very good things. No one is perfect; okay!

  72. @ jjbadd
    Great story. Congrats for having the strength to overcome all the obstacles in your way.

    @ truthserum4u and Blackheld-great posts.

    What the bloggers on this site should consider doing is reading the book themselves and giving their opinion on it as a PFT article as people who have actually read it.

    Even great people have their foibles and his weren’t really that uncommon for his profession. It’s surprising to know he fell victim to them though and I’m sad for him that he did. He seemed like a guy who would do ok after football because of his other interests and also because he was always so tough mentally and physically. I think that’s the message I’m stuck with for now, with my not having read the book. Even guys who SEEM like they have it all together may still be subject to tragedy after all.

    Doesn’t change how I feel about the man though (great person, greatest player I ever saw), just throws some potatoes in the soup.

  73. To me, this isn’t about whether the “biography” is based in truth or fiction but why the book was needed at all. Walter Payton was a better human being off the field than he was a running back and he was the greatest all-around running back of all time. To kick his memory (and the collective memories of his many fans – including even Packer and Vikes fans!) around when he is unable to defend himself is inexcusable.

    Walter retired in 1987 and passed away from a terrible, debilitating illness in 1999. Where is the relevance in writing a book 24 years removed from the man’s football life and 12 years removed from his time on Earth? This is nothing more than a cheap effort to make money off of a man’s legend and legacy and everyone involved in both this book and its marketing should be ashamed.

  74. Payton was, quite possibly, the perfect football player. That is what I know.

    Payton the man – I don’t know, didn’t know and won’t know. The book airs his laundry, maybe – and maybe most of may be BS – but I don’t know and don’t care to know.

    This book does not change my opinion on Payton the player – top 3 RB of all time, fierce competitor.

    Nor does it change my opinion on Payton the man – of which my opinion is he was a man like you or me, and like all of us, far from perfect. But I do believe if there were scales that measured such things, Payton would be weighed as a “good man.” And that is enough, isn’t it?

  75. When did Ditka become such a huge defender of Walter Payton? He certainly wasn’t when he deprived Sweetness of a Super Bowl TD by putting The Fridge into the game at the goal line.

    As for the book, I’ve read the excerpt in SI and it’s disappointing to me that one of my sports heroes wasn’t a saint. But he was still a great football player, he had redeeming qualities, and the accusations the book makes all seem to be backed up by people who were close to Payton. I don’t believe in pretending the truth was something different than it was.

  76. too bad this author / pubic hair isn’t famous enough to dig up the crap in his life.

    i’m thinking with the personal dysfunction he’s shown already to write this book, it’d be an interesting read.

  77. Biographies like this have been written about public figures(living or deceased) more famous than Walter Payton. Why such an outcry? Get over it–he wasn’t a good guy. On that note, it might be time to rename that Man of the Year award.

  78. Well, for one, I am not big on “Tell all” books dressed up as biographies. That is what this pamphlet sounds like to me. I don’t plan on buying it, and I do not blame Ditka for standing up for Payton, even if a majority of what is alleged in the book is true. I mean, woopdedoo, Payton may have needed to take pain pills, and got addicted. What is that, the discovery of the age? He played football for 13 years. No surprise there. He may not have had the storybook marriage. And? For those people judging Payton for that, I bet all of you have gone to a rock/rap concert a time or two. Those musicians on stage are not exactly virgins, let’s put it that way.

    My point is that, there are too many fans and journalists that want to put a moral standard on sports as it is. I mean, who cares what Payton allegedly did or didn’t do off the field? They call the award “The Walter Payton Man of the Year” award because he had SOME GREAT QUALITIES. He didn’t have to be perfect, did he? I just think like some others are saying that we should just enjoy what he did on the field, and accept the fact that like EVERY CELEBRITY/ATHLETE, he is not a perfect person. I think he was an overall good person with flaws like everyone else has.

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