Did Sweetness Need Drug Class?

by: Mike Miller

“Sweetness” was one of the greatest running backs of all-time. Many would argue, the greatest! Of course Sweetness was better known as Walter Payton, a man who led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl title in 1985.

Let’s begin by saying there is a hidden side to everyone. Some are certainly darker sides than others. But did Sweetness have a drug problem?

A new book about Payton, the Bears’ legendary Hall of Famer, reveals a controversial, private side of the running back and has drawn criticism from his family.

In “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton,” Jeff Pearlman chronicles Payton’s life from his childhood in Mississippi and battle with a rare liver disease and death from bile duct cancer in 1999.

Excerpts in Sports Illustrated relate tales of Payton’s extramarital affairs, including a scene in Canton, Ohio, when Payton took both his wife and girlfriend to his Hall of Fame induction. Payton, Pearlman writes in detail, battled depression and was addicted to painkillers during his playing career and afterward.

My memory will always be of Sweetness bursting through a seam and scampering for a touchdown. Of course I was pretty young and he was an idol. Like all professional athletes and celebrities, it is important that none of see them as role models.