Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, the National Football League's career rushing leader, signed a one-year contract yesterday and indicated 1987 will be his final season.

Payton, the holder of 10 NFL records, emphasized "unless something happens and {team owner Michael} McCaskey says he wants me back, this will be the last one {year}. Nothing is final, but I'm thinking it is. This isn't a farewell speech, not really."

Asked when he made up his mind about retiring, Payton replied, "Probably when I walked through this door" to start the news conference.

Payton, 33, reportedly had been offered an option year for 1988 but turned it down. Insisting he could play three more years, he said he wanted to go out while he was on top but left the ultimate decision with the Bears.

McCaskey said he wants Payton to stay in the Bears organization in a front-office capacity.

Payton earned $687,000 last season and reportedly got a raise for his final contract.


Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski has turned down a Green Bay contract proposal, his agent said.

"We just told them we weren't crazy about their latest proposal," John Langel said. "I said that, if they were interested, it would take more. We're still interested. It's not bitter."


Cornerback Issiac Holt was arrested for drunken driving July 4, bringing to four the number of Minnesota players charged with the offense in the past eight months.