Growing up on the South Side, I remember my room being filled with Bears pennants and posters of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. He was such an exciting player. I remember his goal-line leap, his stutter step movement as he ran the ball, and his team going to the NFL Super Bowl and beating the Patriots in 1985.
Until I read about it, I didn't realize that it has been 10 years since Payton's death.
I'm not one to celebrate someone's death, but I think it is good to pay respect to one of the best iconic figures in Chicago sports.
I met Payton as a producer on "The Walter Payton Radio Show" in the mid-'90s at his restaurant, Walter Payton's Roundhouse. I have met many celebrities and sports figures over the years, but Payton was different. I handed him a pair of headphones that he was to wear before going on the air.
Before I gave him the headphones, I put them on to check the sound levels and to make sure they were operable.
"I checked them, and they were fine," I thought.
He put them on and said he couldn't hear anything. I'm panicking. I'm thinking, I just checked these headphones and they should be fine. He handed them back to me. I put them on, and they worked. They worked so well that he turned the level of the headphones up so loud that it sent a jolt through me so fast that it made me jump. Payton got a good laugh out of it, and so did I.
He was a prankster, and I knew that all too well.
He didn't care who you were, he always had time to talk to you or sign an autograph.
Walter, for sure, was one of a kind.
I've met his son Jarrett on more than one occasion, and I see where he gets his charm and warm demeanor.
I will remember the great games, and I will remember the person.
Thanks for the memories, Walter.
Jonathan Hood is a part-time host on ESPN Radio 1000. He makes appearances on The Show and Chicago's Baseball Tonight.