Walter Payton was one of the greatest running backs in the history of the National Football League. He retired after the 1987 season with the Chicago Bears. Payton finished his career with 110 rushing TD’s, 15 receiving TD’s and 16,726 rushing yards. He was also on one of the best bears teams ever, the 1985 Chicago Bears. The Bears won Super Bowl XX and cemented Payton’s place in the Hall Of Fame as a Super Bowl winner. There however is one thing missing from his career. Payton never scored during the only Super Bowl appearance and you might be suprised to find out it was no fault of his own.
When the season began Head Coach Mike Ditka was very high on his 1st draft pick William “the refrigerator” Perry. Perry came into camp very unimpressive and was overweight at 380lbs. The Defensive coach Buddy Ryan was not impressed by Perry and did not want to play him. During the early part of the season Ditka got the idea to use Perry in offensive plays to block for Walter Payton. Perry sometimes even rushed with the ball himself. He was later put into the defense and played well. During the season Perry became an offensive gimmick. He was the funny fat guy that the fans cheered for. Perry almost overshadowed the rest of the team in popularity.
The Bears made it through the season with a 15-1 record. They plowed through the divisional and championship games to make it to Super Bowl XX in New Orleans. Their challengers were the Cinderella team of that season, the New England Patriots. Nobody expected the Pats to make it as far as they did. They were the underdogs going into the title game. The Bears dominated the Pats on the defensive side of the ball. The Offense of the Bears was stifled a bit, although the score tells a different story. The Patriots based their defense around stopping Walter Payton. They did just that, Payton was held to 66 yards on 22 carries. Even with the lack of success Payton was still the Bears leading rusher in the game.
Mike Ditka made two decisions during that game that haunt him to this day. On the two opportunities where the Bears were close to the goal line and a rush for the touchdown seemed the best choice, Ditka chose William Perry and Quarterback Jim McMahon to make those TD’s. The most disappointing TD for Walter Payton was the Perry rush for the TD. Perry had been primarily a defensive player and a gimmicky running back. For Payton not to be allowed to gain the glory of scoring a TD in the biggest game of his career is a complete disgrace.
Walter Payton was always a stand up man and until the day he died he never openly questioned Mike Ditka for not letting him run in a TD in the Super Bowl. Ditka has come out in recent years an said if he could do it all over again he would have opted for Payton to get the Super Bowl glory. While Ditka can own up to his mistakes he will never be able to give those moments to the great Walter Payton.