McKinney: Quick Hitter
On this date in 1975, Walter Payton gave future flu-sufferers everywhere something to shoot for.
Let me explain.
Payton brightened a gloomy, rainy day at Chicago’s Soldier Field by rushing for a then-NFL record 275 yards on 40 carries.
He scored the game’s only touchdown as the Bears upset the powerful Minnesota Vikings 10-7.
Payton’s total was two yards more than O.J. Simspon’s previous league best.
“Sweetness” held the NFL record for the next 23 years.
It remains the fifth-highest single-game rushing total in NFL history. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson owns the current record with 296 yards vs. San Diego on Nov. 4, 2007.
Payton’s record-setting day sparked the Bears on a five-game winning streak to close the regular season. That helped Chicago finish 9-5 and make the postseason for the first time since winning the 1963 NFL championship.
Individually, Payton won the 1977 NFL rushing crown and earned league-MVP honors.
I suppose Payton could’ve called in sick on that Nov. 20 afternoon 38 years ago.
Pro football fans are glad he didn’t, because even with the flu, he played amazingly well that day.
— Mark McKinney
ENTERPRISE SPORTS EDITOR