Jeff Pearlman’s book, “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton,” details the late Chicago Bears star’s depression, drug abuse and extramarital affairs and has drawn criticism from Payton’s former coach Mike Ditka and ex-teammates. An NFL Network documentary about Payton first aired Thursday night.
“I hope people see the documentary for what it is, and I think it’s a great piece,” Jarrett Payton told the Chicago Tribune. “Pearlman’s in it, so I don’t want people to discredit it and not look at it because he’s in it. I want them to really see if for what it is and just watch it.”
Walter Payton died in 1999 at the age of 45 of cancer after battling liver disease and his son said the weeks since the release of the book have not been easy.
“But I don’t hold grudges against anybody, and I’m speaking from my heart,” Payton said. “Everybody has a job, to write or do whatever they do to the best of their ability. We all have to feed our families. So I understand that. It’s just hard for me to be 30 years old now and to have your life in a book or in the paper. Some of the stuff was true. Some of it wasn’t.
“It’s hard because someone passed away and is not here to defend himself. But my family and I have gotten so much stronger through everything. We have to really thank the Bears fans here in Chicago because we’ve gotten so much love.”