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Remembering the Greatness of Walter “Sweetness” Payton 7

Posted on July 25, 2011 by Dean Hybl

He didn't have a cape, but Walter Payton could leap over tall NFL players in a single bound.

The images of him flying through the air or high stepping across the end zone are so ingrained in the memories of football fans who had the pleasure of watching his amazing talents that it is hard to believe that it has been 24 years since Walter Payton completed his NFL career and nearly a dozen years since his premature passing.

On what would have been Payton’s 57th birthday (he was born on July 25, 1954 in Columbia, Mississippi), we remember the greatness of a football player who was simply sweet.

I know you hear it all the time, but God definitely broke the mold when he created Walter Payton.

Others are recognized as maybe being better NFL players, but I just don’t know that there was ever a better combination of desire, gracefulness, power and athleticism packed into a 5-foot-10 frame than the man they called “Sweetness.”

By all accounts, Payton never should have been as great as he was.

Given his physical stature, initial preference for playing the drums over playing football and that he played his college football at tiny Jackson State it is really quite amazing that Payton went on to achieve such lofty status.

However, heart and desire cannot be measured at a scouting combine and there is no question that Payton had those required tools in spades.

Payton’s career numbers: 16,726 rushing yards (second all-time), 21,264 yards from scrimmage (3rd), 125 touchdowns (11th) are beyond reproach, but his career was about so much more than mere statistics.

For more than a decade, Payton was the silent assassin of the NFL. His soft voice and quiet demeanor off the field masked his killer instinct on the field.

They also masked his reputation as a locker room prankster and cut-up. Read the rest of this entry →

25 Years Ago: Da Super Bears 2

Posted on January 26, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Few teams in sports history have matched the brashness and brilliance of the 1985 Bears.

It is difficult to believe that it has actually been 25 years since the Chicago Bears completed one of the most dominant seasons in NFL history with a 46-10 thrashing of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

Though it has now been 25 years ago since their Super Bowl victory, the 1985 Bears still hold special place in the memories of many football fans as much because of the larger-than-life personalities as for their dominant performances on the field.

The images of Jim McMahon mooning a helicopter, Walter Payton running through tacklers, William Perry plowing into the end zone and Wilber Marshall running through the snow to a game clinching score are still fresh in the memory.

The Bears didn’t just beat opponents, they punished them. Of their 15 regular season victories, only four were not double digit victories.

They made two proud franchises look old and out-manned with a 45-10 victory over the Washington Redskins and a 44-0 white-wash of the Dallas Cowboys.

Only a 38-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in week 13 kept them from a perfect season.

But even that loss didn’t stymie the confidence and brashness of the Bears. The day after that loss, members of the team gathered to shoot their “Super Bowl Shuffle” video.

They then went out and out-scored their final three regular season opponents 73-33 to finish with a 15-1 regular season mark.

The previous season, the Bears had reached the NFC Championship Game, only to lose to the San Francisco 49ers.

This time around the Bears left little doubt that they would be the NFC representative in Super Bowl XX. Read the rest of this entry →

Super Bowl XX: Not On This Given Sunday 2

Posted on January 26, 2010 by Phil Andrews
walter payton sweetness

The outcome of Super Bowl XX was never really in doubt as Walter Payton and the Bears dominated the Patriots.

Wow, has it really been 24 years?  Jan 26, 1986. Super Bowl XX, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tony Eason and the New England Patriots, against Jim McMahon and the Chicago Bears.

After watching the Super Bowl on TV as a kid, I couldn’t believe I was actually there to cover the big game in person. It was just my second year in television so I was still a little wet behind the ears.

At the time, I was working for Channel 9, WMUR TV in Manchester, N.H. and was in the Big Easy as part of the media contingent covering the Patriots.

That year the Pats were actually a surprise Super Bowl suitor given the teams they had the beat to get there.  After finishing the regular season with a record of 11-5 and in third place behind the Dolphins and Jets in the AFC East, New England’s ticket to New Orleans consisted of three wildcard road wins against  the Jets (26-14), Raiders (27-20) and Dolphins (31-14).

Ironically, Miami was the only team that season to beat the Bears, who arrived on Bourbon Street with a gaudy record of 18-1, following play-off wins over the Giants (21-0) and the Los Angeles Rams (24-0).

Yep, back to back play-off shutouts, but no surprise really when you consider at the time the Bears where in the record books as one of the best defenses ever in league history.

That year, the Bears, “46 Zone” defense, allowed the fewest points (198), total yards (4,135), and fewest  yards rushing (1,319). They also led the league with thirty-four interceptions. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Walter Payton: Simply Sweet 1

Posted on November 01, 2009 by Dean Hybl

It is difficult to believe that 10 years have passed since the sports world lost a true giant with the passing of Walter Payton on November 1, 1999.

Click here to read “Simply Sweet”, which is an in-depth look at Payton’s glory days at Jackson State and in the NFL with the Chicago Bears.

In remembrance of Payton’s amazing career, we have also chosen several highlight clips that reflect his true greatness.

Walter Payton Highlights:

Read the rest of this entry →

Barry Sanders: Incredible and Selfless 14

Posted on September 12, 2009 by Joe Gill
Barry Sanders left the game as arguably the best running back in NFL History

Barry Sanders left the game as arguably the best running back in NFL History

Players like Brett Favre and Michael Jordan walk away then come back then walk away then come back yet again. They can not douse the competitive fire. They need the adrenaline rush. They aren’t ready for a “normal” life even though their body may be.

Not Barry Sanders. He retired at his prime and he was only 30 years old. He left the game as arguably the best running back in NFL history. He has been content with his decision and never attempted a comeback over the 11 years since his retirement.

Wow I wish he unretired and Brett Favre stayed retired. Favre should have left on a good note rather than with all dramatics over the past two years. Barry didn’t want that. It was not in his makeup.

A totally unselfish man, Barry Sanders left the game only 1457 yards short of Walter Payton’s record. He probably would have eclipsed the record in a year or two. In Barry’s absence, Emmitt Smith broke Payton’s record and finished his career with 18,355 yards.

Great accomplishment by Emmitt Smith, there is no doubt about it. However, as me and my friends argued for years, Barry Sanders did more with little. He did not have Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Jay Novacek, and an all star offensive line. He made due with the likes of Herman Moore and Scott Mitchell.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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