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Walter Payton

Age: 45

NFL's all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards gained over 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears; nicknamed "Sweetness" for both his kindly demeanor with teammates and fans plus the remarkable grace he had for such an explosive tailback; played in a club-record 184 straight games for the Bears from 1975-87; scored 125 career touchdowns (110 rushing); had 77 games of 100 yards or more; gained 1,000 yards or more in 10 seasons; rushed for single-game record 275 yards against Minnesota on 11/20/77; won 1977 and 1985 MVP award; gained 2,034 yards from scrimmage in 1985 en route to a Super Bowl title with Chicago; named to nine Pro Bowls; held seven NFL and 28 Bears records at the time of his death; passed Jim Brown's career rushing mark in 1984; elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993; member of Bears board of directors, co-owner of CART racing team; minority owner of Walter Payton power equipment and owner of Walter Payton Roundhouse Complex. He disclosed that he was suffering from a rare liver disease in Februrary 1999. He died of cancer.

Died: Lake Forest, Ill., November 1, 1999

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