Flags at half-staff whipped in the cold November wind outside Soldier Field yesterday.

But the day after his death, many spoke more of Walter Payton the man than Walter Payton the running back.

"There aren't many players one can idolize as a child and still look up to them as an adult. Walter is one of the few," Sandy Fox of Chicago wrote in a message posted on the Chicago Bears' Web site.

Payton, the NFL's career rushing leader, died Monday of bile duct cancer that was discovered during treatment for a rare liver disease. He was 45.

With no obvious spot for fans to express condolences--Soldier Field is removed from downtown and Payton lived and worked outside the city--the sort of spontaneous memorials that often spring up after celebrity deaths were largely absent.

The Bears opened a gate at Soldier Field, and some fans dropped off bouquets and cards. More sent flowers to Payton's restaurant in suburban Aurora. At Mike Ditka's restaurant, fans signed condolence cards and were encouraged to become organ donors.


EU Supports IOC Effort

The European Union is ready to participate in the IOC's drug agency that is to start next week. The 15-nation EU agreed to take part after its sports commissioner, Viviane Reding, met with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch yesterday. The agency is to supervise worldwide drug testing and policy and begin operating by Jan. 1.


Europeans Go South

The PGA European Tour will hold a tournament in South America for the first time next year. The Brazil 500 Years Open will take place at the Sao Paulo Golf Club from March 30 to April 2 and offer $750,000 in prize money.


Comings and Goings

Paul O'Neill's $6.5 million option was exercised by the New York Yankees, who also exercised a $750,000 option on Darryl Strawberry. . . .

The Cleveland Indians exercised contract options on right fielder Manny Ramirez and catcher Sandy Alomar for next season. The team won't pick up the option on veteran right-hander Dwight Gooden. . . .

Jerry Dipoto, one of only three Colorado pitchers to have an earned run average less than 5.00 last season, agreed to a $4.9 million, two-year contract with the Rockies.


WNBA All-Stars

The second WNBA All-Star Game will be played in Phoenix next summer. The season is expected to start earlier next year, but the game will be at approximately the same time as this year's July 14 All-Star Game at New York's Madison Square Garden.


Dogga Gone

The ninth-place finisher in this year's Chicago Marathon was disqualified Monday for not running the entire course, race officials said. Said Dogga of France showed up on the monitors of only two of the 26.2-mile course's five computerized checkpoints. Video of the race also failed to show Dogga passing three checkpoints. Race director Carey Pinkowski spoke with Dogga on Monday, officials said. When confronted with the facts, Dogga was unable to offer any explanation for the discrepancies.


B. Dortmund Out

Borussia Dortmund, the 1997 European champion, was eliminated in the first round of this year's Champions Cup, losing to last-place Boavista of Portugal, 1-0. Jurgen Kohler couldn't get out of the way of Pedro Emanuel's shot in the 17th minute and deflected it into his own goal. Barcelona (4-0-2) and Fiorentina (2-1-3) advanced from Group B, playing a 3-3 tie. [Complete results, Page D9.]


Sampras Ailing

Pete Sampras saved three match points in an uneasy comeback victory over Spain's Francisco Clavet in the Paris Open, only to be felled by a new malady.

"Pete can barely walk," ATP spokesman Nicola Arzani said after Sampras's 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Clavet. "His back is very stiff because of muscle spasms. The doctor thinks it is not related to the injury problems Pete had in the summer." Sampras hadn't played since injuring his right hip flexor in a match in Indianapolis on Aug. 20.


New Reading Room

Reading Is Fundamental, a national nonprofit literacy organization for children, will dedicate the Arthur Ashe Reading Is Fundamental Room on Saturday at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Northwest. The room is for at-risk children who participate in the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation's programs.