Bears celebrate Payton's life, career

11/1/2009 - NFL Chicago Bears
Connie Payton, Walter Payton's widow, and their daughter Brittney pose for a photo before the Bears-Browns game Sunday at Soldier Field. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

CHICAGO -- Ten years to the day he died, Walter Payton was honored by the Chicago Bears with a ceremony at halftime of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

The crowd roared during a video tribute that showed highlights of his career and included praise from Mike Ditka and owner Virginia McCaskey, along with former teammates such as Otis Wilson and Richard Dent. Besides dodging and leaping over defenders, Payton was also known for his work ethic and his tendency to pull pranks.

The video showed that, too.

There was Payton running up a hill in suburban Barrington and setting off a firecracker at training camp, as he was known to do. When the tribute was over, his wife Connie asked the crowd, "Wasn't that awesome?"

Flanked by their son Jarrett and daughter Brittney, Connie Payton ended her brief speech by saying, "We love you. And one more thing: Go Bears!"

The NFL's all-time leading rusher when he retired, Payton was first diagnosed with a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis and then cancer before he died on Nov. 1, 1999.