Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweetness now just Bittersweet - When Idols Get Tarnished



The Greatest Bear There Ever Was

I am a Walter Payton fan.   He is my favorite pro athlete of all time.

The stairways to my basement and the basement itself are a mini-shrine to Walter.

What appealed to me about Walter was the effort, the work, and the humanity he showed towards others.  How many countless thousands of people he helped in the Chicago area.  The prankster and the consumate teammate.

I idolize Walter Payton, or is that now idolized? 

This week a new biography came out about Walter from respected writer Jeff Pearlman.  Pearlman interviewed 678 different people, trying to put together the ultimate biography of one of the greatest athletes Chicago has ever known and maybe the rest of the United States.  And boy did Pearlman ever deliver...

Painkillers, Adultrey, Children out of Wedlock, Suicidal thoughts have splashed all of the Chicago papers and Sports Illustrated this week.  There is some debate by boneheads as to the motive of this book (which is to make money) and the timing (Walter has been dead for almost 12 years) but that doesn't bother me.  The book is a historic image of #34.  Just like if someone wrote about Thomas Jefferson getting a case of jungle fever, that's what was true.

No what disappoints me or is hard to reconcile is that this great person in my mind, did things so opposite of that it makes me wonder who he is.  I realize that professional athletes cheat on their wives, or at least a number of them do.  That's disappointing but not shocking. 

What's shocking to me is this man who did so much for kids, would father a kid from an affair and never have the balls to go meet the child or have any relationship with the child prior to his death in 1999.  The Walter Payton that I idolize, would not do that, but alas it appears that public image outweighed common decency.

Takes a little shine off the statue for this writer

No comments: