The Walter Payton Statue Debate

We take a moment away from the 2009 season to discuss a topic currently making the Chicago media rounds.   The Chicago Park District has announced they are against the placement of a Walter Payton statue in the area outside Soldier Field.  From the Tribune:

According to a Payton family spokeswoman, park district officials
explained that Soldier Field and the area surrounding it is to be
preserved strictly as a memorial to war veterans. There also is concern
a Payton statue outside of Soldier Field might diminish the stature of
other former Bears Hall of Famers.

The park district, which oversees Soldier Field and its grounds,
reportedly offered to have the statue placed at any other Chicago park.

While there will surely be an outpouring of support for Sweetness from the city of Chicago, count my vote on the 'nay' side of the issue.

Before I explain, let's throw out the idea of Soldier Field being predominantly a salute to veterans.  Soldier Field is a football stadium and its significance in military history is merely symbolic.  It is a beautiful, fitting symbol but a symbol nevertheless.  The statue outside the nation's premiere football facility should reflect the game played inside.

As for their second point...it's a good one.  When you place a statue outside a ballpark, the statue should represent everything the organization stands for, on and off the field.  In that regard, Payton fits the bill.  But the player immortalized should also reflect the team during it's finest days and that argument can not be made for the era in which Payton played.

Why?  Because of George Halas.  Halas won 324 games.  He won 6 NFL championships.  He was named coach of the year twice in the 1960s.  Football - and that means Soldier Field - are in Chicago (and arguably America) because of George Halas.   Halas, in his trademark hat and glasses, belongs outside Soldier Field.  (He served in WWII from '43-'45 if that helps.)  Too many people have asked me over the years what the "GSH" on the uniform stands for.  Too many people are quick to forget the history of this great game in favor of scoring fantasy points.  If a statue will great us at the entrance, let it be of the man responsible for our being there.  Let it be of George S. Halas.

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  • "According to a Payton family spokeswoman, park district officials explained that Soldier Field and the area surrounding it is to be preserved strictly as a memorial to war veterans."

    Yeah it's not like Soldier Field has anything to do with FOOTBALL.

    And I suppose the U2 concert this weekend was all about the vets too.

    Sometimes the Chicago Park District and the Bears really don't seem to get it. First with the terrible quality of the field and now saying no to the Walter Payton's family. In my mind this is a no-brainer. The Bears and the city of Chicago need to find a way to make this happen, and who knows, maybe even run with the idea a bit and start something really special.

  • I say "Nay" as well. How about putting up in or outside Halas Hall?

  • Even before I finished your post I convinced myself that if any statue be placed in front of Soldier Field it must be that of George S. Halas (and not just because he is my pseudonamesake).

    Walter Payton is my favorite Chicago Bear of all time. He was one of the best football players and best men to ever play the game. I honestly mourned his passing. But Papa Bear is everything to this franchise (and to the NFL, I hasten to add).

    I think a 3x lifesize bronze, with a heavy winter coat, gloves, fedora, and glasses should be constructed with a look in his eyes as though he is critiquing every single body on the field.

  • Ditka should have dive Walter the rock in the big game... Just saying..........

  • The MJ statue in front of the United Center is one thing - that place was built because of him - period.
    As much as all Bears fans who remember watching him love Walter, Soldier Field is a memorial to the US Armed Forces; the fact that our favorite sports team and some great bands play there is incidental to its meaning. Naming it Bears Park would diminish it in much the same way for me. It puts the sports franchise before or on an equal footing to the raison d'etre for the stadium. For me, that's a large part of why the Bears are special. What other football team has managed to hang on to their history like this?
    And anyone that answers "Packers", you're off my christmas card list, permanently.

    I have a feeling that Walter would be embarrassed by all the attention. That's why he'll always be #34. Forever.

  • Soldier Field was re-built because of the Bears. They are symbiotic.

  • I'm cool with statues of Walter, Papa Bear, hell, even Jimmy Mac can have one...just not in front of Soldier Field. It's bigger than a football game, whether they land a UFO on top of it or not.

  • In the grand scheme of things, the Park District will probably roll over - and I won't agree with it for the reasons I've given - and that'll be that. Life will go on and the statue will be there to remind us of a great guy that happened to be a great football player that a City loved.

  • I agree Jeff.....the statue would indicate that he did/meant more to the bears than Payton and would cause further loss of bears history among the younger fans (who will eventually teach their kids that Sweetness was the father on bears football - just sayin).

    As some of you guys may or may not know I generally don't comment much.....I'm more of a reader. However, reports in the media directed at the bears (specifically at our sometimes temperamental quarterback) have prompted me to chime in. Don't get me wrong, he made some terrifically silly plays out there, but I think He'll get his head screwed on clockwise sooner rather than later.

    My problem is watching all these former "Great" coaches rip Cutler to shreds like he threw away the Superbowl and impregnated their daughters. Yes he made some bad plays....yes he took too many chances but so did Narcissus pretty much his entire career and that doesn't stop them from "gargling his nuts" (ref. Matty Southside).

    And earlier this evening I spent a good hour of my life where I could have been doing something useful, but instead watched Playbook on NFLN where Mayock and Billick claimed to be "analyzing the details" of what took place in the dame with the cheese doodles last Sunday.

    That was perhaps one of the worst jobs of "analyzing" how a game unfolded I've ever seen.

    They harped on Cutler and showed only the four highlights of him getting picked and NOTHING else. Like he came onto the field and threw four passes, got picked on each one and went crying home. And the very first and ONLY highlight of Arod is showing him throw that cupcake TD pass to Jennings. What the hell was so impressive? He threw a ball to a wide open receiver because our future hall of fame corner

  • I agree Jeff.....the statue would indicate that he did/meant more to the bears than Payton and would cause further loss of bears history among the younger fans (who will eventually teach their kids that Sweetness was the father on bears football - just sayin).

    As some of you guys may or may not know I generally don't comment much.....I'm more of a reader. However, reports in the media directed at the bears (specifically at our sometimes temperamental quarterback) have prompted me to chime in. Don't get me wrong, he made some terrifically silly plays out there, but I think He'll get his head screwed on clockwise sooner rather than later.

    My problem is watching all these former "Great" coaches rip Cutler to shreds like he threw away the Superbowl and impregnated their daughters. Yes he made some bad plays....yes he took too many chances but so did Narcissus pretty much his entire career and that doesn't stop them from "gargling his nuts" (ref. Matty Southside).

    And earlier this evening I spent a good hour of my life where I could have been doing something useful, but instead watched Playbook on NFLN where Mayock and Billick claimed to be "analyzing the details" of what took place in the dame with the cheese doodles last Sunday.

    That was perhaps one of the worst jobs of "analyzing" how a game unfolded I've ever seen.

    They harped on Cutler and showed only the four highlights of him getting picked and NOTHING else. Like he came onto the field and threw four passes, got picked on each one and went crying home. And the very first and ONLY highlight of Arod is showing him throw that cupcake TD pass to Jennings. What the hell was so impressive? He threw a ball to a wide open receiver because our future hall of fame corner

  • I agree Jeff.....the statue would indicate that he did/meant more to the bears than Payton and would cause further loss of bears history among the younger fans (who will eventually teach their kids that Sweetness was the father on bears football - just sayin).

    As some of you guys may or may not know I generally don't comment much.....I'm more of a reader. However, reports in the media directed at the bears (specifically at our sometimes temperamental quarterback) have prompted me to chime in. Don't get me wrong, he made some terrifically silly plays out there, but I think He'll get his head screwed on clockwise sooner rather than later.

    My problem is watching all these former "Great" coaches rip Cutler to shreds like he threw away the Superbowl and impregnated their daughters. Yes he made some bad plays....yes he took too many chances but so did Narcissus pretty much his entire career and that doesn't stop them from "gargling his nuts" (ref. Matty Southside).

    And earlier this evening I spent a good hour of my life where I could have been doing something useful, but instead watched Playbook on NFLN where Mayock and Billick claimed to be "analyzing the details" of what took place in the dame with the cheese doodles last Sunday.

    That was perhaps one of the worst jobs of "analyzing" how a game unfolded I've ever seen.

    They harped on Cutler and showed only the four highlights of him getting picked and NOTHING else. Like he came onto the field and threw four passes, got picked on each one and went crying home. And the very first and ONLY highlight of Arod is showing him throw that cupcake TD pass to Jennings. What the hell was so impressive? He threw a ball to a wide open receiver because our future hall of fame corner

  • Triple post FOR THE WIN!!!

  • sorry for the triple post - there was a glitch - continuing from above...................... Nathan "twinkle toes" Vasher who seemed for a second to lose all sense of direction before tripping over himself leaving the receiver to gently coast to the end zone like he's playing 7 on 7 in mini camp.

  • hat trick

  • I'm with you, Jeff. Halas or nobody.

  • I absoulutely agree. I Love Papa Bear and I loved watching Walter play...awesome player and an awesome person off the field. BUT being a vet I do agree with the Park District.

    That being said, I wouldn't mind a Statue or Papa or Walter or both somewhere in Grant Park near the stadium. Call it "Bear Memorial Park" etc. That would be very cool.

  • Walter Payton College Prep HS would be an appropriate spot. Grant Park, too.

  • I think the reason for the debate has been a bit watered down. SOldier Field stopped being a tribute (asthetically) after the columns were hidden in the UFO steel. The statue isn't the issue at this point, its where they want to put it. In my opinion, they should put it near the busiest entrance on campus and if not that- all statues of Singletary, Papa Bear, Butkus, etc... The memorial to our vets(and I'm one of them) will always be there- but now you kind of have to search for it like Sherlock Holmes. That said, screw Daley and the Park District, they do what they want to anyway. LONG LIVE SWEETNESS!!!

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