Let us put the flags at half-mast today to mark the passing of one Walter Jerry Payton, an athlete of such breathtaking grace and power that he was known simply as "Sweetness."
Over the course of his thirteen-year career, he was a nine-time Pro Bowler, a five-time All-Pro, at 23 the youngest ever league MVP, and a Super Bowl champion. At the time of his retirement following the 1987 season he was the NFL's all-time leader among running backs with 184 games started, 3,838 rushing attempts, 16,726 rushing yards, 492 receptions, 4,538 receiving yards, and 110 rushing touchdowns. He was threw more touchdown passes than any other running back of the Super Bowl Era. He has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Payton announced in February 1999 that he was suffering from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare liver condition believed to have contributed to his bile duct cancer. Though his illnesses were too advanced for him to benefit from transplants, he spent much of his final year advocate for people to make their organs available for those in need. He died November 1, 1999, at the age of 46.