Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quote of the Day (Don Yaeger, on Football Great Walter Payton)

“Walter’s big thing was it’s not about records, because records were meant to be broken; it’s about what you do with the people who are closest in life.”—Author Don Yaeger, on the late great NFL running back Walter Payton, quoted in Kevin Harlin, “Walter Payton’s Rush to Win,” Investor’s Business Daily, December 4, 2008

I celebrate here Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Walter Payton, who, on this date in 1984 against the New Orleans Saints, eclipsed Jim Brown’s record 12,312 career rushing yards. Payton would finish with 16,726 rushing yards—a mark surpassed since then—but, as Harlin’s article makes clear, he might, as impossible to believe, have been an even greater man off the field than on.

Among too many activities to count, he made sure needy kids had a Christmas by mounting a holiday toy drive, and tirelessly stumped for organ donations and research into cancer—the disease that killed him at the far-too-young age of 45. Today, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation—the philanthropic organization “Sweetness” founded with his wife—continues to fund activities related to the “emotional healing of neglected, abused and underprivileged children.”

This past year, we’ve had all too many news reports about selfish and self-destructive athletes. Just this once, it’s important to remember one who made a difference to other people, a guy who, wherever he was, soared over everyone else.

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