CHICAGO – There were a lot of “sweet” moments for “Sweetness” in the 13 seasons he put on a Bears’ uniform, but some could argue that his greatest came 38 years ago on Friday on a cloudy day at Soldier Field.
It was on that day that Walter Payton got most prestegious record a running back in the National Football League could want.
On October 7, 1984, Payton’s passed Jim Brown as the league’s all-time leading rusher in a home contest against the Saints. He entered the game needing just 67 yards to break the record, and that moment came in the third quarter.
He took a quick pitch to his left, then found an opening to pick up six yards to officially pass Brown’s total of 12,312 yards that he had in his career with Cleveland from 1957 through 1965.
For just a moment, the game was stopped as Bears’ teammates came onto the field to salute Payton along with a number of Saints players as well. His family along with friends and Bears’ fans at Soldier Field gave the running back a huge ovation after breaking the record that had stood for 19 years.
The run would spark Payton to another big rushing day as he finished with 154 yards on 32 carries with a touchdown in the Bears’ 20-7 win over New Orleans. That was part of an outstanding year for the running back as he rushed for 1,684 yards – the second-highest total of his career – as the Bears went 10-6 to win their first NFC Central division championship in history.
For his efforts, Payton was named a NFL first-team All-Pro, one of five time that would happen in his career, while also being named to the Pro Bowl roster.
When he retired in 1987, the Hall of Famer finished with 16,723 yards in his 13-year career, which stood until Emmitt Smith broke it in 2002. His total remains in second place in NFL history, followed by Frank Gore, Barry Sanders, and Adrian Peterson.
Larry Hawley has more on this great Payton moment in this edition of #WGNTBT from WGN News in the video above