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Walter Payton

Running Back

Walter Jerry Payton

Inducted 1996

Date of Birth



Columbia, MS


Jackson State University (1971-1974)


Walter Payton came out of Columbia, Mississippi, to star at Jackson State. He broke into the starting lineup as a freshman in 1971. He was a complete football player-- one who could run the ball, block, tackle, pass, catch passes, and kick. In that freshman year he gained 614 yards rushing and 65 yards passing. He scored seven touchdowns and kicked three field goals and 13 extra points. As a sophomore in 1972, he had his biggest scoring day against Lane College. He ran for seven touchdowns and two two-point conversions. In 1973 and 1974 he made every All-American team picked for college division or division I-AA teams (FCS). In both years he was voted Black College Player of the Year. He finished his career at Jackson State with 464 points and 3,563 yards rushing. The point total was a modern record for college football. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry for four years. Payton, 6-0 in height and 205 pounds, joined the pros in 1975. He played 13 years with the Chicago Bears and set a pro rushing record of 16,726 yards. He was honored in 1987 with the founding of the Walter Payton Award, given each year to the leading player in I-AA football. He died from cancer at the age of 45. A memorial ceremony at Soldier Field, Chicago, drew an estimated 20,000 people.


Height 6'0

Weight 205

Career Highlights

  • 1974 All-Conference
  • 1974 First Team All-America (College Div., HBCU, NAIA)
  • 1974 Led nation in scoring
  • 1973 All Conference
  • 1973 First Team All-America (HBCU, NAIA)
  • 1973 Led nation in scoring
  • 1972 All-Conference
  • 1972 First Team All-America (HBCU)
  • 1972 Led nation in scoring
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