In Defense of Jeff Pearlman's "Sweetness"

In Defense of Jeff Pearlman's "Sweetness"

Jeff Pearlman is taking a beaten from Chicago Bears fans and from seemingly everyone associated even peripherally with the great 1985 team.  Well regarded fans believe the personal life of Sweetness is private business and does not belong in the public forum.  Mike Ditka said publicly he would spit on Pearlman if he encountered him.  The issue even worked its way into the current group's press conferences, with both Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher - two players who started their own careers after #34's death - defending the character of the namesake of the NFL's Man of the Year award.

I understand Payton's legacy in the Chicago Bears organization and the city of Chicago.  I understand that to an entire generation of individuals he is more than a football player.  He is someone to idolize.  He's (dare I say it) a hero.

This brings me to Tribune columnist John Kass; a nice guy by most accounts.  Quite honestly I'd never heard of John Kass until Tuesday night when he appeared rather prominently in Alex Gibney's Catching Hell documentary on ESPN.  In the documentary, Kass attempts to hand Steve Bartman his business card just moments after Bartman's fateful "mistake".  Bartman, a devoted Cubs fan, had his life ruined by the Chicago media in the days following Alex Gonzalez' inability to field a routine double-play ball.  Not by Kass.  You see, Bartman did not take Kass' business card that day.  Bartman's never taken an opportunity to speak to the media, no matter the financial gain. This doesn't mean Kass wasn't ready to lead off and make someone attending a sporting event the story of the sporting event.

Why do I tell you this?  Because Kass wrote a piece in the Tribune claiming Walter Payton did not deserve the treatment given by Pearlman.  What did Bartman deserve, John?  What made you so willing in the moment to exploit the mistake of a regular guy who'd purchased a ticket and yet makes you so squeamish at the thought of a great player's off-field legacy being tarnished?  Tarnished, I might add, by what is apparently the truth.

I never idolized Walter Payton off the field.  Walter Payton or any other athlete.  And if Jeff Pearlman's book is well-researched and accurate, why doesn't it deserve to be written?  Why doesn't the information belong out there?  Who decides which subjects are worthy of reporting and not worthy of reporting?

And not to go all Jason Whitlock on everybody but why would this tarnish anything of Payton's legacy?  Mickey Mantle is still the most celebrated ballplayer in the history of New York City and his nights of carousing while a fifth of scotch took the fast lane to his liver have been the subject of multiple tomes and major film for HBO.  People greet this information with a snicker and sneer and accompany stories of his on-field dominance with a nostalgic, "and we barely woke him up at his locker that morning."

So maybe Walter struggled with his life after being the most famous athlete in the city of Chicago and one of the most famous in the country.  Maybe he struggled with both the physical tool of all those hits and the emotional toll of no more stadiums full of adoring fans.  Maybe he sought to fill those voids with prescription  medication and the adoring women lingering after speaking engagements.  Who.  Fucking.  Cares.  This does not tarnish a yard Payton gained on football fields across this country.

The response to Pearlman's book in and around Chicago feels like a natural counterpart to Gibney's Bartman documentary.  Sports are something we all love.  When we confuse them with actual life, we've lost touch with a basic reality.  Walter Payton was a great football player and a flawed man.  What could make him more real than that?

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  • great stuff, blogfather

  • First...Good article and good point. Great football player, period. issues off the field don't make him any less of a football player. the off field issues are sad and unfortunate but shouldnt change how he is looked at as an NFL running bback

  • In reply to bsampso2:

    What about "In Defense of Sweetness" as a headline?
    Why defend the scuzz that wrote the book ? Isn't this a Bears' blog?

  • In reply to IrishSweetness:

    I agree with you Irish...
    This book is irrelevant to those of who have followed Payton's career from beginning to end. I don't want to know what he smoked, snorted, or who he slept with. I JUST DON'T CARE!

    Walter was very instrumental in bringing a unified atmosphere to the Bears locker room. In fact, remember when the media came after Walter when he was under attack for running into an official? Even (then editor in chief of The Bear Report), came out in support of Walter stating that anybody who "knows" Walter, knows that he's a man of character.

    He was MORE than just a great football player. Wlater was a great father, husband, and friend to those who knew him most....

  • i don't know if i want to read it. I know some of it happened but at this point what the fucking point? The point is money.

    Also, what are the odds we end up with this guy?

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/09/29/seahawks-shopping-aaron-curry/

  • In reply to Gucci Mang:

    Can't play anymore average than Roach has.....

  • Abe Lincoln once said, "I never met a man who had any virtues who had no vices."

  • Telling the Truth is one thing. Telling the truth in the name of money is entirely different. Ditka is right. He see's Pearlman's book for what it is. He should have honored Connie's request. The man has no honor.

  • Outstanding, Jeff.

  • I think you put it a bit harshly Jeff, but I basically agree. I think the book is worthy of being published, and Pearlman appears to be genuine and respectful.

    However, you can't really be too surprised about or expect to force-feed those closest to Payton. To them this book really stings. They don't think of him as an icon, but as a very good friend whose memories they cherish.

    Plus at some level, it's a cognitive dissonance issue -- if they accept that their friend was deeply troubled and isolated, they have to face their own failings as close friends to be there to help him. Leave those guys alone -- it's the masses you should defend Pearlman from. Attack the talk show hosts and personalities that only read the bullet points of what the book is about, and blather on ignorantly about it.

  • Dead men are easy targets. They can't defend themselves. Insofar as Walter's kids and family are still around, I find it to be a classless means to acquire wealth.

    Thankfully, I can not be compelled to buy his book.

  • In reply to Viva:

    Dead men are easy targets. They can't defend themselves.

    This is probably the dumbest response I hear from Pearlman critics. So no one should be allowed to write biographies about dead people? What about all those books about the Kennedys, Elvis, Michael Jackson, etc.? Why do the allegations bother you so much? The only thing that should matter with this book is the facts. If the book is filled with lies, then I'm sure the Payton family will take action.

    It's pathetic to see all the stupid reaction to this book. There is not one good point that the meatballs have brought up in regards to this book. The reaction makes Chicago sports fans look like some crazy college town. Just stupid.

  • Everyone should ask themselves how they would like a tell all book written about their lives under a microscope from start to finish?

  • In reply to BigDaddy:

    Here's the other side of that coin:

    Everyone should ask themselves what a world without the biography as literary form is like.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    I have never bought or read a biography. Just ain't my thing. Walter Payton's value to me over the years was strictly limited to what he did on the field and how he represented the Bears as a player. I guess he's fair game from the standpoint of other people that have had biography's written about them. A tell all book like this violates the memory we as fans have about him as a player, because it broadens the scope of how we view him in area's than don't typically concern us as fans. It brings us into his bedroom and doctors office which have always been intended to be private.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    everyone should ask what a Bears blog without your peckerhead comments would be like. lolololololololo

  • In reply to #16 Bears Fan:

    LOL.

    When you break out the second account, don't forget to switch which IP you login from. Dumbass.

  • In reply to #16 Bears Fan:

    16,

    A rational response I'm not expecting. But what's your beef with GP? You realize it's your defensiveness and childishness that's being broadcast when you post like that. With each ridiculous post, you make yourself look like more and more unstable. Don't you have better things to do with your life?

  • In reply to #16 Bears Fan:

    hahahaah this is awesome

  • Nothing to see here. The last thread is good.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d822aea2d/article/seahawks-would-listen-to-trade-offers-for-lb-curry?module=HP11_headline_stack

  • "Hero" is a word with more than on definition. Was Walter a Hero? Sure, he was a football hero. On the field is where that tag should be attached to his name. Off the field he was a man, he had weaknesses and flaws like any other man. He succeeded and failed on the field as well as off the field. Does a story need to be told just because it's true? Not really. Does the story teller have the right to tell it? Of course, at least in this country.

    I think we elevate our 'heroes" above ourselves, up to an almost divine state, and when someone "bashes" them in anyway, even if it's truth being told, we tend to get upset and carry a "how dare you" attitude about it. However, the truth about heroes is that they are all human beings and they make mistakes sometimes or do things they regret later, etc. I can think of other people in history I admire and consider my heroes. Patton, "Pappy" Boyington, Andrew Jackson, and the truth about these men is that they had some major flaws though their exploits are celebrated in history. I think Boyington said it best when he was quoted for a book about WWII. "Show me a hero, and I'll show you a bum."

    I will still consider Walter "Sweetness" Payton on of my "heroes" regardless of his failures and weaknesses that this book may bring to light.

  • Sorry Gucci, didn't see your post.

    Zombiedust beer lauded by OBR as one of the tastiest beers ever.

    BTW - going through his 17 hour long Thursday show at the mo. Recommends benching KD in order to improve our blocking. Ouch. Liked the guy as a receiver, but if he's another Greg .....

    Turk McBride can be seen putting his whole weight on Cutler's windpipe with his forearm if you go frame by frame. It was no kick. Scumbag.

  • In reply to IrishSweetness:

    Sorry, McBride plays for the Saints obviously. But he didn't get called out for it.

  • I highly recommend this commentary by one of Chicago's most astute bloggers, Patrick Hickey:
    http://hickeysite.blogspot.com/2011/09/foulin-of-walter-payton-in-age-of-iagos.html

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Respect to somebody who puts their actual photo and name up there!

    A friend recommneded this Gregg Easterbrook, and I must say his is the best stuff i've ssen. Good writer and extremely varied articles/pages. All archived. Worth a look-see.

    http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/story/_/id/7023615/tmq-says-history-being-made-detroit-lions-buffalo-bills-rise

    At least check out cheerleader of the week. Denver Bronco's Sam. I'm biting my knuckles.

  • In reply to IrishSweetness:

    Yes, TMQ (aka Easterbrook) is awesome. I don't agree with him 100% on things, but he dishes it out straight. One of the few national columnists that I really enjoy reading... and he actually watches games too, unlike most supposed analysts.

  • Worst biography ever was Albert Goldman's book on John Lennon. It was full of shit that was just made the fuck up. Macca and others came out and bashed the shit out of it. It inspired lines in a U2 song, God Part II:

    Don't believe in Goldman
    His type like a curse
    Instant karma's going to get him
    If I don't get him first
    Don't believe in rock 'n' roll
    Can really change the world
    As it spins in revolution
    It spirals and turns
    I...I believe in love

    Outside of that, you have to go to known trash biographers, like Kitty Kelley, idiots with axes to grind.

    That's what's tough about the bio as literary form. It takes a stab at defining history, and alot of people like to write their own history. It tips the apple cart over on a lot of things, and usually results in aspersions upon credibility.

    Let me just say this on Payton's bio: the guy who is telling us that Walter used to pop Vicadin and Tylenol like a kid eating smarties, the guy who told us that Walter rubbed himself down with an analgesic made for horses - that guy was Walter's agent. His agent for his entire career. He has nothing to gain... except the desire, which gets very strong in people as they get old, to tell the truth about what happened. And truth is perspective, which is why a good biographer needs lots of sources, esp. ones that go on the record. Pearlman says he has 700 interviews. How many of those are on the record, I dunno. Seems like quite a few are.

    Ditka - he's a moron. All these people think they are protecting a legacy - well - Connie wishes openly that Walter could be studied for the kind of brain damage that drove Duerson to suicide. And, as we saw all summer and last spring on DBB, that's another door everyone would just assume stay closed.

  • Great post... I'm torn with how I feel about the Pearlman book. It's not surprising to read the allegations in the SI excerpt. All athletes have issues and I can accept that. There are no exceptions, not even Walter. I do have an issue with the excerpts that were used to sell the book. Brilliant... but a low blow. Pearlman and his publisher should have known they would receive this strong a backlash because Payton is the most beloved athlete in Chicago, even more than Jordan. Everyone in Chicago knew what kind of person Jordan was off the basketball court and that was accepted. I know my reaction is a knee jerk reaction based on the excerpts. I'm sure it's a well written book with fascinating stories.

    Another thing that bothers me is Pearlman's motive. He wanted to tell the truth about Payton. What truth? I understand why he wrote books on Bonds and Clemens... he did so to uncover the truth about the use of PEDs in sports. These guys were scumbags. What is he trying to accomplish with the Payton book? Is it a witch hunt to tell us that Walter isn't really the nice guy all thought? Is he trying to expose the realities of life after playing football -- the physical and mental deterioration of these athletes, cancer research, bring awareness to organ donation?

  • In reply to Bears STH:

    He talks about his motives in the Q&A linked from that article. He wasn't trying to expose anything -- after the Bonds and Clemens bios, he wanted to cover a likable person and he realized no one seemed to know that much about Payton. He set out to explore the man whom everyone loved and write a definitive biography, and he chose to hold nothing back.

  • In reply to Michael L:

    The backlash is a knee jerk reaction. The excerpts were chosen by SI and Pearlman and IMO made it seem like the book is going to be a witch hunt.

    Just like so man other fans, we hold our memory of Walter to the vest because of how he played the game, how he was so accessible and how he died.

  • Sorry Jeff, I think Pearlman deserves all the abuse he's getting. If you write a book about a legend, an icon, filled with dirty laundry, you're going to take it in the teeth every time. People don't want to hear it. Bowie Kuhn wanted to ban Jim Bouton from baseball when he came out with his book "Ball Four" in 1970, detailing Mickey Mantle's off the field exploits. Fans don't want to read this trash.

  • In reply to TonyG:

    TonyG, I take your point well. But "Ball Four" is one of the most thrilling books ever written about baseball. I've been lucky enough to spend several hours with Bouton and he does not regret writing it.

  • I think all the discussion here is terrific. I like it when we can up the sophistication level. I'll be taking that sophistication level down around 4 or 5 pm with the Weekend Show.

  • I think you are basically right jeff.

    GP has an interesting, well thought-through take.

    Personally, I've never liked Pearlman no matter how good a writer he is (and he’s nothing special from what I’ve read). I would put a LOT more stock in the book if the info had been gleaned from family and close friends/teammates. Why does anyone write a book, nd especially an unauthorized one... money. That's not my issue, my issue is the sources.

    Personally I won't read it. There's a reason half of the guys on my first JV tackle football team wanted the #34. I remember it like it was yesterday. 30 7th graders at the equipment shed. Literally half the kids wanted #34. That is why this book hits a such a nerve... that scene has been replayed over and over again... even now... at pretty much every school in America since 1985. Some things are sacred and shouldn’t be backwards engineered.

    In a world with very few true heroes, people want that fantasy of greatness of man (not just football player) maintained… not desecrated by some skinny dbag with questionable sources. What right does he have to defile one of the only true great American heroes?

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    I'm not going to read it either, mb. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be written.

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    we agree there.

    I will also continue to believe pearlman is mediocre writer, but a first-class weasel.

    (like so many others who find it so easy to make judgments about the men who play this brutal but amazing game, yet never had the guts to play themselves)

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    a

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    Freedom of speech, absolutely, no arguments there. But this is a tough room ....

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    30, his primary sources (and certainly the ones primarily features in the 9 page excerpt in SI) were:

    - Payton's agent
    - Payton's affairs handler
    - Payton's foundation manager

    Basically, other than his family, the people who handled virtually every aspect of his non-lockerroom life. All 3 are named and on the record.

  • In reply to Michael L:

    right. not his family. Not his friends. not his teammates. That's what I said Mike.

  • I move that enough (way too much?) space has been devoted to bottom-feeding "journalists".

  • I just don't see the point of this book. Every man has skeletons. What purpose does it serve? The guy is dead. If the truth was that he used steroids and nobody knew it, then the truth deserves to come out, because it affects his on field legacy. If the truth was all his charitable work was a front for his gambling or some such thing, then it deserves to be told, because it affects his off the field legacy. These things he wrote about are not relevant. So why write it? Because they're true? Okay, well, why not write about his favorite cereal, or his favorite t.v. show? They are true too. Or the time he aced a math test. I'll tell you why. Because it doesn't sell. He wrote about these things for no other reason than because it would sell. There's a million facts about Payton's life he could have chose to write about, but he chose the skeletons. Why? TO SELL BOOKS about a dead man who cannot defend himself. Nor should he have to. He's dead.

    I think someone should write a definitive biography about Pearlman's life. Dig up all his skeletons. Just to be definitive. Ditka is a tempermental loyal sonuvabitch. I don't blame him one bit.

    I won't read this book. Of course Payton has skeletons. Who doesn't. I'd rather focus on the good things he did. Tell me he did steroids and I'll listen. Beyond that, it's his personal life and I don't need to know.

    I only wish journalists were as interested in "The facts" about politics as they are about our fallen hero's.

  • In reply to Doc Nitty 34:

    well said doc?

    ...how are the twins coming along btw?

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    whoops, that first one wasn't supposed to be a ?

    Man, this cold is mussin wif my head.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    You'll find out soon enough when I drop the runt of the litter on your front door.

    Feel better, mang. We've been battling a little cold too. But the emergen-C seems to be keeping it at bay.

  • In reply to Doc Nitty 34:

    Ha!

    Hey, I love sweet placebo tablets too!

    (hee hee)

  • In reply to Doc Nitty 34:

    The point of this book is money, plain and simple, at the expense of a man unable to defend himself and the family who loved him despite his supposed shortcomings. I won't buy it, won't read it, and I'd burn it if I got my hands on one. No one ever claimed that Walter Payton was a saint. His personal life was his own. This attempt to tarnish his legacy now, long after his death, and to hurt his wife and family for no good reason (other than to line the author's pockets) is beyond disgusting! Pearlman can posture all he wants. This is NOT a story that needed to be told. He's a worthless POS!!

  • In reply to Doc Nitty 34:

    "I just don't see the point of this book."
    Exactly.

    Ditka stuck by an old friend. He doesn't need to defend freedom of speech. He's loyal, and I've found that's the rarest quality in a friend. Loyalty requires you to step up to the plate and take one on the chin from time to time regardless of the veracity of what's being said about your boy..

    I mean really, what was 'unearthed' here (if anything)? A footballer who played football since he was a child was on painkillers? Really? Well I'll be damned, what a scumbag. A man sought female company outside of his marriage? Which laws were broken again?

  • In reply to IrishSweetness:

    ...while he an connie lived in seperate houses for ten years. She even said, and I paraphrase, "I don't blame him for seeking out other relationships. We were apart (just not legally)."

  • In reply to Doc Nitty 34:

    thank you doc for sayin that
    pearlman won't ever put himself in harms way
    his stuff about walters personal life is irrelevant to a bear fan
    walters life was played out before us on a stage that is hallowed to all of us; it was our home...he was family
    I want a picture book of walters life; you know a dvd of his games
    and some commentary along the way
    i can look at my own life; or any other body; that is around me on a daily basis; and find a child born out of wedlock; a drug addict; a real time relationship happening out of the marriage circle
    somehow because it's Walter, it is more newsworthy?
    he says he was excited; in his telling of it, when after 4 months of hunting he finally got what he found to be a game changing narrative...something "real".....you be excited "imitation" pearl man
    if I finally heard that i would have been sad and concerned; and thought about finding a new topic to write about
    this says alot about his own corrupt nature
    he feels that it is only the facts; just the facts.....
    sounds like he has something to hide

  • Wow... denver fans are really fucking dumb/desperate: http://larrybrownsports.com/football/sure-enough-someone-bought-a-tim-tebow-billboard-in-denver-pictures/89564

  • Mom strikes again. She'll be here this evening for about a week and a half. She sent me an email yesterday that read,

    "Hmmmmmmmmmm . . . I just wrapped a present and tied it with a bow! Wonder who it’s for!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????

    Hmmmmmmmmmm.... I wonder what she means by "present".

    God I love that woman.

  • In reply to Doc Nitty 34:

    Jebus ..... it's green isn't it ....

  • In reply to IrishSweetness:

    You know it.

  • "... taking a beaten" ...?

  • Sorry, forgot to post his actual home ...

    http://search.espn.go.com/gregg-easterbrook/

    Great stuff.

  • Another little gem from OBR's thrusday show, Tice said when Louis is healthy "...we'll find a spot for him...".

    Aaaah. Chris Williams to RT/LT?, Louis to LG?

  • So a writer discovers information. He compiles that information into a book that has clearly struck a cord across the sports landscape.

    If he didn't take a nickel from the sales of the book, would that make the material okay?

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    The profit motive is a straw man, and I think most of the DBB regulars know it. The Trib PAYS Steve Rosendoom to write that crap.

    I think the better argument is, why go into Walter's closet?

    Pearlman was on the Score this morning. His take is that everyone is focusing on all the salacious shit, and most of his book is extremely flattering to Walter and DOES show him as a hero. But a hero with faults. And the subtext is, the dreaded NFL iceberg: CTE

    Did he have it? Did it make him act like he did? I think that's the real argument in the book. The mistress crap, all that - it's stupid. And yes, it probably hurts his kids. I think they can deal with it. Jesse Jackson's kids do alright.

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    jeff, form my eyes it never was about the money that he is gonna make;
    $ from my eyes is just a concept anyway; and we could B.S. about how much walters, dirt brought on the market; compared to some jewish bloggers dirty laundry. Star power trumps the creative soul again......
    but, i believe it was about $ for him. Has he ever written a book that contains an unsellable topic,. Remember, the dirt isn't about the high school athlete living under wacker drive; and having "walteresque experiences".
    I don't see how this is relevant info. that should actually see the light of mass media. I have my take on this, in a comment to doc. below; and another perspective that is true to this experience at #65.

  • http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/nfl/09/29/congress.nfl.ap/index.html?sct=nfl_t2_a6

    I can't begin to tell you how angry this makes me.

    FUCK YOU, you bunch of hack morons. WHO. FUCKING. CARES!?!?!?!?

    Do your god damn jobs for once and keep your fucking big noses out of something that has nothing to do with helping this country get better. What a waste time and our money. All of these people should be fired. Man that makes me angry. Congress???? Really????

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    MB -

    It's part of Goodell's plan to steer the league away from an Iceberg that could sink it. That iceberg is labelled "CTE."

    Goodell saw the writing on the wall. For years, he had doctors who would deny deny deny. In 2009, he had to push them out:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/sports/football/25concussion.html

    The rest of medicine wasn't having any of it. The voices were going to drown out the league, the league HAD to make changes or face possible congressional intervention.

    So, we lose our kickoffs. That head of NFL rules said on FOX show when Howie and Terry berated the loss of kickoffs, that it lessened violent hits by 17% on special teams. Could be a real number, could be bullshit - don't know.

    Step 2: Crack down on HGH and the Roiders. Smaller, more average players, don't hit each other as hard. There are high schoolers showing signs of CTE. I saw Glenbard West play recently, those kids are freakin huge. Slow down players, shrink them, and buy yourself time against the CTE problem.

    So, yes, it's the Gubbmint. Damn those Feds! But really, it's Goodell and the league, who are willing to take their medicine, because they know they have no choice. Now, personally, I don't know it's gonna help much. I just know the guys on NFL Network classics from the 70's look kinda normal, and today's players are much much bigger. Might not be enough to divert the Titanic, though.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    it'n not just this GP, it's them getting involved in the clements thing and all of the other baseball trials. It's a fucking shame that gov is involved in any of it.

    i would rather have them wasting our money doing other stupid worthless shit.

    Now the CTE stuff is another story altogether and I think you have some interesting thoughts there.

  • ...And this went straight onto my facebook page. Too many times we ask people in the spotlight to be more than flesh and blood, and when they fail, we become disgusted with what they've done.

    Who am I to make such a judgement? Better yet, who am I to come after someone who makes such a great man more easy to relate by pointing out that he is indeed a MAN, with his flaws?

    Thanks for the great post, Jeff...

  • I will be one of the first to say that I will probably read the book. Why? Curiosity for the most part. I can’t see this being a book strictly about the bad stuff. We all heard stories of Payton the Jokester, Payton the Teammate, Payton the Humanitarian, heck the NFL changed it Man of the Year award to honor him. I have read the excerpt in SI, and honestly I did not read anything that was that damning and sullied my thoughts and vision that I have of Walter. So he popped some pills, so he had affairs - Connie admitted they separated, just not legally divorced. Like Jeff said it does not take anything away from any yard he ran for on a football field.

    I don't really see what the big deal is and why it is pissing people off. Is it too soon? nope- 10+ yrs after death. Is it because Payton died and can't defend himself? Probably a little, but Payton unfortunately left us too soon. Does that fact make it wrong to write a book? I don’t think so. Is it that we are afraid it might diminish the version of Payton we have in our minds? Most likely. But he was a man with faults like all of us, that does not diminish what he did on the field. The excerpt in SI was 9 pages, and it is an excerpt meaning it was passages chosen to make the book sound more exciting and invoke a reaction- it’s like a movie trailer. The book isn’t even out yet. The book is probably 300+ pages long, I am guessing the other 300+ pages give a little more insight and Pearlman said he did almost 700 interviews so I am guessing he cross checked his stories if he was able to. If you are like me at least once a year I go on YouTube just to marvel at Payton highlights. Will this book lesson my view of Walter to a point I won’t watch those highlights? Definitely not.

  • I wish I wouldn't have missed this post, but I'm going to publish my take anyway. John Kass is actually one of the best writers the Trib has. I've read countless articles he's written on Mayor Daley and particularly on organized crime in Chicago. Both of which he's has great insight and a very opinionated point of view. In short, I like John Kass. I liked his Payton article too, but I do see Jefe's point. I will defenitely be reading the book. Not for the dirt but to get a clearer picture of the one athlete i did absolutely idolize as a kid.

  • How do you that have not read it know what the balance of the book really is? You base judgment on sensationalized second hand accounts by the absolute worst form of bottom feeder in existence - the critic.

    For all we know, one might read the book and come to respect and love Walter more than ever - knowing the dedication and work involved in overcoming those demons he had - to accomplish all the admirable things the man did.

    Before fulminating about how evil Pearlman is, it might behoove one to consider that one really *doesn't know* what is in the book.

  • A couple of things:

    First, it's a 460+ page book and SI chose to excerpt pretty much only the darkest stuff so who's who's really the money-grubbing villain here? Sounds to me like the excerpt was really taken out of context and intended to stir the pot.

    Secondly, I never met Walter Payton personally, either during his playing days or after (I did meet Connie and a six year old Jarrett at a party once and she was wonderful). The closest I got to him was trying to get him to run his white Countache against me and my 88 Vette when I caught him at a light in Northbrook one afternoon years and years ago (he didn't bite).

    But I know a lot of people who did know Walter both before and after his football career and not one of them ever had anything but the highest praise for him and how he treated those around him (as opposed to a lot of other prominent 85 Bears who were complete jerks - both during and after their pro careers). The fact that he wasn't perfect doesn't diminish one bit, the high regard I hold him in, both on and off the field.

    And about Ball Four mentioned above. Jeff mentioned it as "thrilling." Good description but I also thought it was one of the most insightful books I've ever read as well and Jim Bouton's life philosophy which is also part of that book definitely had an impact on the teenager who read it. It made all those guys whose baseball cards I'd been collecting so much more interesting. And I didn't think any less of any of them either. It's funny that most of the flak he caught was over Mickey Mantle and I've got a pretty funny story about that:

    A very good friend of one of my sisters was down in Ft Lauderdale during her high school Easter break back in the early seventies. She was at a restaurant with her parents when her father saw Mickey Mantle sitting with a few other old Yankees a couple tables away. He kept badgering his sixteen year old daughter to go get his autograph so finally to shut him up, she agreed. She went over to his table and said "Excuse me, Mr. Mantle but could I please have your autograph?" Mickey looked up a bit pie-eyed and said "Sure honey, what's your name?" She replied "Patty". So Mickey Mantle grabbed a cocktail napkin and wrote "Dear Patty, fuck you" and signed it Mickey Mantle. Her father went ballistic, the other old Yankees at the table apologized profusely and picked up their tab. I often wonder what that napkin would be worth as a souvenir but her father tore it up.

    Anyway, I too agree that the book in it's entirety ought to be read before spitting on the author....

  • I saw this topic 1st thing this morning; it turned me off;but, it came up a time or two this way in my mind.
    this perspective is from 40 yrs of meditation; so it may not be for everyone: but ....
    sadly this is what the public mindset desires
    this would not be happening; if the desire, spawned from the human mind, had not flashed.
    pearlman should never look to tell this tale from his perspective,
    that is a flawed assumption
    pearlman is just another body with it's own set of perverse occurrances
    walter was a body with it's own set of perverse occurrances
    human experience exists
    it is buried in each bodies seed; from the begining when the sperm met the egg
    do not dramatize the personal experiences of the body...they mean nothing to another body; but are significant in the plan for that paticular seed
    why did pearlman peek in walters window....desire brought him....
    the body usually does not act with wisdom at these times
    i suspect pearlman will get closer to his own madness because of this...or continue to play the ignorant fool
    he wants to seem so concerned about walter; almost as if he was a caregiver, in this act of revelation by his bodies willing mind...and i am sure the stool pigeons that revealed trusted conversation or visions, were also concerned; so concerned.......
    how many of these people have ever been so concerned that they stopped to help a homeless soul get back up on their feet; until it was a done deal....
    coulda saved a "walter" in real time
    what we do to others we do to ourself
    we are all one
    my teacher says it this way:
    find out where you were 8 days before you were concieved and stay there....and this is possible
    at that point we are all one, from the same source....
    so what is the big news about our brother walter now
    he was the most beautiful soul he could be
    and that should be enough
    you say alot about your concepts when you speak of others for profit...be cautious with the words at these times; we all know what the body is capable of
    but only one body was capable of doing what Walter did in a bear uniform....and that my freinds is what brought sweetness to our experience
    this body will pour its own cup of misery down its own throat
    never needed to learn about walters
    he is only loved for the joy he gave so willingly

    George the wise beatle put it this way.....(scorceses' documentary on georges world; comes out tues. & wed. this wk. on HBO)

    Isn't it a pity
    isn't it a shame
    when not too many people
    can see we're all the same

    Chief Seattle said it this way in 1854:
    Man did not weave the web of life
    He is merely a strand in it
    What he does to it he does to himself

  • Your main argument doesn't make any sense. John Kass a reporter reporting from a Cub Playoff game attempted to get an interview from Steve Bartman. If he succeeded so what? Do you think Kass would have asked Bartman about his drug use? Do you think Kass would have asked Bartman about him cheating on his wife? What about other illegal stuff Bartman may have done?

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    I'm not saying that Kass's move was intentionally for the good or bad. Yet, there is a huge difference. Bartman was alive to make the choice to be interviewed. Perlman seized an opportunity in which neither Walter Payton (deceased), nor any of Payton's immediate family members provided interviews....Schlock journalism that Perlman has displayed throughout his career since his reporting of the 'off-the-record' quotes from John Rocker...Regardless of the move, he's a cheap-shot reporter.

  • Mr. Hughes,
    When it comes to character and another made being put in judgment, you either stand with the accused or against. You had a choice between standing with Mr. Pearlman or Mr. Payton. You reveal your own character by standing with Pearlman. To use Kass as a source point for your article shows you are a lazy journalist. You don't belong anywhere near the Bears franchise let alone commenting about it. Your comments are as lame and pointless as Pearlman's. You didn't know Payton on nor off the field which makes you unqualified to say anything intelligent about the story.

  • There's a reason why people like Ditka neither write books nor read them. Nor are biographies written for the incurious.

    I wouldn't trust Ditka's opinion on a book any more than I'd ask his help on my spelling.

  • Between the Endzones, Walter Payton was a god. Before and after he was a man like we all are with feet of clay. If his vices were larger than ours, so were his abilities.

    Should his vices have remained private? Probably.
    But his abilities and virtues were public. So our picture of him might have been skewed. What it seems to me Pearlman does is bring some balance back to our concept of the Hero of Soldier Field. Will I read the book? No. I'm not a Speaker for the Dead, nor do I want to be, but if we all can acknowledge that our Sunday Afternoon Heroes are just men like the rest of us Sunday night through Sunday morning, we'll all be better off.

    Worth what ya paid for it.

  • I just think it's bad form to write unflattering things about people, when they are dead and unable to defend themselves. Many of the exploits of Mickey Mantle came out while he was still alive, so he had a chance to address those issues with the media.

    At the same token, although Walter's family and friends were aware of much of what was going on in his life after football, now they are bound to deal with these issues again. That is unfair boadering on just plain mean.

  • I agree that this is bad form, but I feel the real reason we are all up in arms is that this is not very damming information and the author has presented it as such. Clearly attempting to cause waves so his work is noticed, because otherwise it would be simply regurgitated material. Seriously, why did Pearlman write this tome, if not for monetary gain.

  • I want my memories of Walter Payton to be left as is. I don't think he would have pulled that Mickey Mantle napkin stunt - if he did, it would have been fair game (while he was still ALIVE). What did this do after the fact the man has been dead for years? Oh yes...$$$ for the writer. Bartman? A jackass dork who deserved the crap.

  • I can find no good reason that Mr. Pearlman felt compelled to write this story of an immensely private man, who had demons which he preferred to keep to himself. We all realize what a great man and football player Payton was and it would be nice to remember him that way. Do we really NEED to know all about everyone? It is particularly galling when the subject is deceased.

  • Agree . . . why does Payton get a pass on a biography? Since I'm sure 99% of the commenters haven't read the book, how can they judge it? I've also read the comment often "he did it for the money." What was he supposed to do . . . write it for free?

    Disagee on Kass. He's a blithering idiot, whose only redeeming value is being a Sox fan. And that he doesn't go to the ballpark anymore.

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