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Walter Payton (July 25, 1954 – November 1, 1999) was a NFL player for the Chicago Bears from 1975-1987. He was the all-time leading rusher in rushing yards until Emmitt Smith broke the record in 2002. He was drafted 4th overall by the Bears in 1975 after playing college football for Jackson State. In 1984, Payton broke Jim Brown's all-time rushing record. During the Bears' Super Bowl year in 1985, Payton and quarterback Jim McMahon helped pave the way to the league's #2 offense. Payton also participated in the Super Bowl Shuffle, as well as Super Bowl XX, but did not score a touchdown, as he was repeatedly targeted by New England Patriots defenders. In a later interview, head coach Mike Ditka stated that not allowing Payton to score was one of his biggest regrets. In his final season (1987), he split duties with Neal Anderson. His number (34) was retired by the Bears, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. In 1999, Payton announced that he had a rare liver disease, which eventually led to bile duct cancer, and Payton passed away on November 1, 1999 at age 45. In honor of Payton, the Bears wore #34 patches during the season. Payton was honored by former teammate Dan Hampton in 2005, and a pregame ceremony was held in his honor on November 1, 2009 against the Cleveland Browns, exactly 10 years after Payton's death.

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