By HDN staff
Walter Payton, arguably the greatest football player of all times, passed away yesterday in Chicago. Like so many other Americans, he was a too young victim of cancer. Unlike recent losses of other sport heroes Wilt Chamberlin and Payne Stewart Paytons passing was not unexpected. Last February Payton made public his battle with a rare liver disease and his need for a living transplant.
On the football field Payton was without peer. He rewrote all the NCAA records at tiny Jackson State University in Mississippi. He was the fourth player chosen in the 1975 National Football League draft, by the Chicago Bears. Payton set the all-time rushing record for the NFL. Payton will be remembered on the football field for always giving 100 percent whether he was carrying the ball or blocking for a teammate. Payton started and ended his career 13 years later with the Chicago Bears. He still holds the record for most games played in a row by a running back at 176.
The only time Payton made headlines was on the gridiron. Off the field he was the consummate professional. He volunteered numerous hours to his community and for causes aiding children. Payton was equally successful in business after his football career ended. Payton will be remembered as more than a great football player to the people who knew him. That many a kid chose the uniform bearing the number 34 while playing football may be the ultimate tribute to Payton.
Payton was arguably the greatest football player of all time. However, when he made public last February that he was diagnosed with liver disease and only a transplant would save him, Payton shared a common bond with countless men and women each individual battling illness, while anxiously waiting for a organ match.
It is our opinion that too many lives are cut to short by cancer and unavailable organ donors. We think this suffering could be greatly reduced if more of us would give and volunteer time to the American Cancer Society. More organs would be available if more of us would prepare living wills or check the organ donor box on our driver's license applications.
Yesterday Walter Payton lost his battle with cancer. He joins countless less famous family members whose lives are cut too short every day.