We already brought you part one of our list of 15 things you probably did not know about Walter Payton, and now we’re back with part two! Check out eight more fascinating facts about the iconic NFL running back that you definitely (probably) did not know below. You might be surprised by what you find out!
Number Eight: It’s Unclear Where He Got the Nickname of “Sweetness.” You might know that Payton was often called “Sweetness” as a nickname, but do you know the origin of the nickname? Well, neither does anyone else, really. The nickname may have stemmed from either his grace, his personality, or a satirical commentary on his aggressive style on the field.
Number Seven: He Broke O.J. Simpson’s Record. In the 1977 NFL season with the Bears, Payton rushed for 275 yards, which broke a rushing record that had previously been held by O.J. Simpson. Payton had a fever and the flu when he broke the record.
Number Six: He Was Part of The Super Bowl Shuffle. You can find Payton in the 1985 music video for The Super Bowl Shuffle. He performed in the video with his teammates.
Number Five: His Motto Was “Never Die Easy.” Payton got his motto from Bob Hill, who was his football coach at Jackson State. The motto also happens to be the title of his autobiography.
Number Four: He Was a Long Jumper in High School. And he often used this skill on the field when he was in the NFL. Payton could leap over his opponents and land on his head in the end zone to score a touchdown.
Number Three: He Disapproved of Touchdown Celebrations. Rather than perform a dance or any sort of celebratory move after scoring, Payton preferred to simply hand off the ball to an official or one of his teammates.
Number Two: His Personal Life Had Many Secrets. Though Payton’s public persona was very positive, and he presented a good and wholesome family image, in fact, the reality was quite the opposite. Payton was a regular adulterer and used multiple drugs, including painkillers he had received from the Bears to help with his game-related injuries.
Number One: He Was Strong Until the End. Payton suffered from an autoimmune liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis, and it may have lead to the bile duct cancer that killed him. In his final days, he was an advocate for organ transplants and even appeared in commercials about it.