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Payton makes Bears fans cheer one more time
By Joe Aguilar | Daily Herald Staff

Brittney Payton cries for her father, Walter at a half-time celebration.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Jarrett Payton with mom, Connie and sister Brittney watch clips of their dad, Walter Payton at half-time celebration in his honor.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

With tears in their eyes, Connie, Brittney and Jarrett yell Go Bears! at the half-time celebration of Walter Payton.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Jarrett Payton gets the crowd pumped up at half-time honoring his father Walter Payton.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Brittney, Connie and Jarrett shed tears at half-time honoring their father, Walter Payton.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/2/2009 12:01 AM

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Brittney Payton wiped away tears as the halftime video presentation honoring the memory of her late father drew to a close on the electronic scoreboard.

Jarrett Payton displayed his emotions differently.

Like his father did countless of times, Jarrett tried firing up the Soldier Field crowd. He stepped away from the 34-yard line in front of the Bears sideline, where painted on the grass for Sunday's game against Cleveland was a replica of the memorial "34" patch worn by the Bears after Walter's death.

As the Payton family, including Walter's widow Connie stood by, Jarrett waved his arms, encouraging cheers.

The noise grew louder. Fans stood. Fans clapped.

Payton triumphs again on Soldier Field grass.

It was 10 years ago Sunday that Walter Payton succumbed to bile duct cancer at the age of 45, just shy of 12 years after his hall-of-fame career ended. The Bears paid tribute to the legendary running back throughout the day, painting "34" football decals on the 34-yard lines and even having Chicago's Walter Payton College Prep High School perform the national anthem.

The first 40,000 fans who entered Soldier Field received an exclusive Walter Payton commemorative calendar.

The halftime video presentation was inspiring.

It included plenty of Payton footage, including "The Run" against Kansas City, his famous goal-line leaps and his run up that heck of a hill. Former Bears Jay Hilgenberg, Otis Wilson and Tom Thayer shared their memories of Sweetness. So did Mike Ditka and Virgina McCaskey.

At conclusion of the halftime celebration, Connie Payton and her family thanked the crowd. They walked behind the Bears bench by the concrete wall where the seating starts.

As Jarrett made his slow walk toward the exit, he soaked up the sun and the moment. He reached up to where fans stood, slapping their hands and shaking them, and smiling a Sweetness smile.