Walter Payton: Why Sweetness' Name Should Be Defended by Mike Ditka

Kyle SkovCorrespondent IIOctober 1, 2011

Walter Payton #34 of the Chicago Bears carries the ball
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Walter Payton is one of the best running backs ever to grace a football field. "Sweetness" passed 12 years ago and his name is now being rubbed in the dirt.

This is something his former coach is not willing to let happen.

Mike Ditka coached Payton from 1982 to 1987. This is plenty of time to get to know the person who is behind the talent.

As fans, we look up to athletes because many times we idolize them. But why do we also enjoy watching them get broken down?

We like to hear about all the hidden skeletons in the athlete’s closet. We want to hear about how imperfect they are so we can see them as humans.

It makes no sense though. Just like any human being, they have a right to privacy.

The claims and stories about Walter Payton sully a very talented running back's name. The book entitled Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, alleges Sweetness, “that Payton abused pain-killers and nitrous oxide, considered suicide and kept a mistress for years.”

There is a right for the author to investigate and write the book. But coach Ditka and Payton's teammates should continue to defend their friend, their teammate and their family.

Payton is a legend and his statistics will never lie.

Payton racked up 16,726 rushing yards on 3,838 attempts. "Sweetness" also scored 110 touchdowns.

His numbers tell the real story. They tell of a man who played his heart out on the field.

He was one of the most exciting players ever. I never got to watch Payton play live, but I have seen classic games and appreciate the man on the field.

Ditka keep fighting the good fight.