November will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of one of the most popular running backs ever to play the game. On Nov. 1, 1999, Walter Payton passed away at the age of 45 due to complications from liver cancer.
As such, Payton’s family & Bears management are planning on ways to pay tribute to the man known as “Sweetness”. Such plans include placing a life-size statue of Walter outside of Soldier Field.
Only one problem - the Chicago Park District is against such a move.
The CHICAGO TRIBUNE reports that a 6-foot bronze statue of Payton with a 6-foot base is currently being constructed in Alaska & Utah, and family & friends of Payton have been pressing the park district to allow the statue to be placed outside the Bears’ home stadium. But the district isn’t going for it:
According to a Payton family spokeswoman, park district officials explained that Soldier Field and the area surrounding it is to be preserved strictly as a memorial to war veterans. There also is concern a Payton statue outside of Soldier Field might diminish the stature of other former Bears Hall of Famers.
The park district, which oversees Soldier Field and its grounds, reportedly offered to have the statue placed at any other Chicago park.
Of course, it wouldn’t really be the same if the Payton statue were placed anywhere else but outside Soldier Field.
On one hand, any memorial to our fighting men & women should be held & cared for with the utmost respect. But on the other hand, would erecting a statue to one of the most beloved figures in Chicago sports history really be a slap in the face to veterans?