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Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,208 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
The first definitive biography of Chicago Bears superstar Walter Payton. At five feet ten inches tall, running back Walter Peyton was not the largest player in the NFL, but he developed a larger-than-life reputation for his strength, speed, and grit. Nicknamed "Sweetness" during his college football days, he became the NFL's all-time leader in rushing and all-purpose yards ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Gotham (first published September 29th 2011)
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Oct 04, 2011 Brandon rated it it was amazing
At one point in this bio, author Jeff Pearlman says Payton cherished the love his fans gave to him but believed it was not real because they did not know the "real" Walter Payton. After getting to know the real Walter Payton through Pearlman's work, I have to say I was shocked at times to see some of the less than heroic behavior of my childhood hero. There are many things I would not have wanted to know as a child. As an adult, however, I am glad to know that Payton was as fallible and as human ...more
Oct 17, 2011 Gayle rated it it was amazing
It’s because of Texas that I fell in love with Walter Payton. I had one of those crushes that women often have on sports celebrities, but rarely ever admit to. Yes, I dreamed about Sweetness and me often even as (or perhaps because I was) a married woman with three young children. It was 1985 and I lived in Louisville Kentucky, a wonderful place for fantasies.

Except for a break of three years living in Europe, I spent the first half of my life trying to get the h*ll out of Texas. My childhood co
Feb 20, 2012 J.C. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
At the moment I am giving this three stars.

The problem is I don't know how I feel about this book, mostly because I grew up (in Chicago) watching Walter Payton as soon as I was able to comprehend what football was. To me Walter Payton was what football meant as the definition to the actual word. That being said, I didn't go into this book with rose colored glasses on, I knew I was probably going to learn some information that would have been hard to take.

The life of Walter Payton is a very inte
Dec 26, 2012 Brett rated it really liked it
Whenever a biography like this one is released, where the subject is no longer living to dispute the sometimes sordid tales within, it will be immediately dismissed by many as gossip trash. For those of you who did that with this book, without taking the time to read it, you are making a huge mistake. My father is quoted several times in this book. He and Walter were great friends when I was a child in Chicago, and I knew many of these controversial revelations at the time they were occurring.

Brian Eshleman
Nov 09, 2016 Brian Eshleman rated it really liked it
Sometimes I think I engage sports biographies so I can huffily complain about how mediocre they are. As a rule, they don't portray the depth and contradictions inside their subject. As a rule, they survey seasons about as compellingly as a football card or baseball card as they begin to rattle off numbers. Generally, they don't capture scenes that make particular moments stand out.

This one gives me no room for complaint in any of those respects. Walter Payton comes through as a real person, at o
Sep 28, 2011 Todd rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
A good solid history of Walter Payton's life and death. It details his own personal struggles with anxiety, drugs, and depression. It also details the racism and death threats that Payton had to face as a star athlete. Payton is an enigmatic walking ambivalence; a pendulum swinging from compassion to selfishness. Pearlman details Payton's sad decline from cancer as well.

If you are a fan of Football, the Bears, or complex characters, then you should pick up this book. You may find some comfort a
Kin Pier
Jan 04, 2012 Kin Pier rated it really liked it
First book I have read about Payton and thoroughly enjoyed the read. At times I was disgusted and other times near tears as his life unfolded. Appeared to be fair with what Pearlman had to work with--Payton met with him at the end of his life, his son and wife would not speak to him.. Payton's assistants apparently were willing to share their experiences with the man and allowed the reader an insight.
Maake Tuulakitau
Mar 09, 2016 Maake Tuulakitau rated it it was amazing
This book has had a huge impact on who I want to be when I grow up. Walter Payton has done so many things that he knows will benefit him and get him closer to his dreams. This book, and Mr. Payton, has told me that things don't become easy but do become possible. I rate this book a five star and recommend it to everyone.
Oct 31, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
This book was honest and real. Everyone has darkness and secrets, while this book opened my eyes to one of my favorite sports stars, it also made me respect him a bit more because he wasn't perfect. He struggled deeply but it still one of my hero's!
Sep 19, 2013 Lance rated it really liked it
4 1/2 of 5 stars (excellent)

Having seen Walter Payton play football in his prime and admiring what he did on the field, I was interested in reading this biography written by a well-known and respected writer for Sports Illustrated. It turns out there was a lot more to the man than the image that was portrayed as the hard-working football player and dedicated Christian and family man.

The research and detail in this book was very good. Pearlman talked to many of Payton’s teammates i
Paul Pessolano
Nov 10, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it
“Sweetness” (The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton) by Jeff Pearlman, published by Gotham Books.

Category – Sports/Biography

Walter Payton was born in segregated rural Mississippi. It is strange that football was really an afterthought. His brother Eddie was the football player, Walter played drums in the band. It was not until his junior year in High School that Walter grabbed a football and was on his way to making sports history.
Many big name colleges did everything to sign Walter but he decided
Jesse Tooper
Jan 24, 2013 Jesse Tooper rated it really liked it
Reading through the entirety of this book, along with many of the points being disputed by the family, it's hard to tell how accurate all these stories were. Like most contrasting stories, I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
If you haven't read the book, Pearlman paints a picture of a flawed, insecure, somewhat selfish, and womanizing profile of one of the greatest athletes of our generation. With his shining, friendly and caring persona always being portrayed by the media, this is
Kris Fernandez-everett
Mar 14, 2012 Kris Fernandez-everett rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports
i never try to expect too much out of a sports book -- but some proper grammar, an editor with a sense of spelling, and more dispassion would have been welcome... nevertheless, there's nothing in here that deserved excoriation from a content perspective -- as much as my wide-eyed 10 year old self would have hated to learn that my idol on the football field wasn't god reincarnate, my grown-up 37 year old self would have hated it much more if he had been...

walter payton, like many of us, was a co
Tom Gase
Dec 04, 2011 Tom Gase rated it it was amazing
Once again Jeff Pearlman delivers a great book, this time on the great running back Walter Payton, who may very well be the best football player of all time, but he was far from perfect as a person. Very, very well researched and a heartbreaking story in that Payton was not ALWAYS the great person I've thought he was in the past. This book brings some things to life that were not always known by fans. Pearlman doesn't really offer his opinion though, he constantly backs up facts with quotes from ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Jana rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle, 2012
A better title might have been Sweetness: The Boring Sports Illustrated Version of Walter Payton's Life With An Unbelievably Detailed Focus On Mississippi High School Football, His Coaches' Irrelevant Life Stories, and Other Minutiae.

I love a good biography and I love football and I am a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, so this book should have been right up my alley. It was part what you would expect from a celebrity biography and partly an expose of Payton's shortcomings as a person, partner, pare
Karen & Gerard
I enjoyed Sweetness--The Enigmatic Life Of Walter Payton a lot! It tells the story of the life of Walter Payton aka Sweetness, a football player. I especially liked hearing from all the players he played with and against as well as the details of his life off the field were fantastic and enjoyable. It must have taken a lot of research to write such a book. It seemed he left nothing out! If you are a football fan, I think you will love this book!

(Gerard's review)
Dec 16, 2011 Michaeljhylton rated it liked it
I should stop being surprised that biographies reveal pop culture and sports heroes as jerks. My admiration for Michael Jordan was sapped by "The Jordan Rules," and the same thing happened here. It's not that there isn't a lot to like and admire about Payton and it's not that I claim to be above "jerkhood" myself. It's just that Walter was not the "Man of the Year" that I thought he was.
Matt Parks
Jan 02, 2012 Matt Parks rated it it was ok
Pearlman expends so much time and effort conjuring Payton's dark side and personal eccentricities that he shortchanges Payton's (possible the greatest all-around football player to ever play the game)singular genius as a player.
Jun 18, 2017 Christa rated it really liked it
I'm not a rabid football fan and I had only a mild understand of who Walter Payton was. I was skeptical about this book because I'm not a fan and I thought the endless football talk would be boring. This book is far from boring. I couldn't put it down at times because I was seriously enjoying hearing about Payton's life from his perspective as well as from others. It seems unbelievable that Jeff Pearlman interviewed over 700 people for this book and it certainly shows. There are some crazy stori ...more
Randy Holndoner
Jun 08, 2017 Randy Holndoner rated it it was amazing
A deep and thorough history of Walter Payton and what many did not know. Some things shocking, some not a surprise at all.

Love him or hate him, you will see a side of Payton that you haven't seen before.

I'm glad to have read this to find out a more intimate side of Sweetness.
Mar 21, 2017 Jeff rated it really liked it
Fantastic book about an all time great. Keeps you reading the entire time!
Feb 20, 2017 Joe rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this biographical gem written by Jeff Pearlman. I never had the opportunity to watch Walter Payton play football, but I read this biography hoping to learn of his football stardom and the reasons why the NFL had named the Man of the Year award in his honor.

Pearlman not only gives us extensive details about Payton's athetic career, he also provides us with insight from family members, agents, former coaches and teammates, along with many other individuals who had imp
Cormac Zoso
Nov 25, 2015 Cormac Zoso rated it really liked it

This is a fine bio on the man who was arguably the best pound-for-pound football player in history ... at least the hardest-working man in football history ... this amazing work ethic made his body into a pretty darned perfect specimen and allowed him to make all the amazing moves and over-the-top-of-the-lines dives into the end zone and head-on-collisions, of which he won all that I can remember even with players bigger than he ...

as a football player, h
Daniel B
Nov 03, 2013 Daniel B rated it really liked it
The biography, Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton by Jeff Pearlman is completely about Walter Payton’s life from birth to death. Walter Payton lives in a small diverse town in Mississippi. Growing up he never really thought of playing tack football for school he just wanted to play backyard football. He first started to play football for the high school when he was a freshman. It took him a while to learn plays but he was really fast and was fast at getting away from defenders. When ...more
Jonathan Lu
Interesting biography of the best player in the greatest football video game ever made - Tecmo Bowl. I can understand the controversy now as it does not quite paint Payton in the kindest light. Of course he was always well renowned for his dedication to community service (and genuinely went out of the way to touch the lives of his fans) and ventures into racing after his football career... but who knew this dude was so self conscious and insecure? And how much he slept around (with a particular ...more
Drew Zagorski
Jan 28, 2012 Drew Zagorski rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kurt Lichte
Shelves: biography
"When God decided to make a football player, He created Walter Payton."

I've been a Bear fan my entire life. I bleed blue and orange. To me, Walter Payton was a football deity. In 1986, my sister, who was in the TV business at the time, called me and told me to get to Soldier Field ASAP. She was filming a commercial with Sweetness as the star. I got there as fast as I could and met the man. Shook his hand - it truly was like grasping a rock. Saw his smile - it was as bright as the summer sun. And
David Longo
Mar 16, 2015 David Longo rated it it was amazing
Walter Payton was my football idol as a child. I thought he could do no wrong. Jeff Pearlman's biography told me otherwise. In fact, what I discovered was that Payton, despite his solid frame and fierce disregard for bodily safety on the gridiron, was a frail and troubled man. It was sad tale, actually.

I've read a few books from Pearlman. He's a good biographer, a good storyteller. Payton's emotional issues, in a weird way, made me admire my football hero even more. "Sweetness" felt so complete
Oct 14, 2013 Svball rated it it was amazing
Walter Payton is known by most as the iconic NFL super star that ran the ball for the Chicago Bears but many do not know the struggles he faced early on in his life. This book gives you an elaborate description of Walter's life, from his early high school days in little town Columbus, Mississippi till his last seasons with the Bears. Walter finds out how to overcome his shyness and crawl out of his shell, to not just become arguably one of the greatest running backs the NFL has ever seen but als ...more
Scott Martin
Feb 19, 2015 Scott Martin rated it really liked it
(Audiobook) When I first checked this book out, I was intrigued. Anyone who follows football has heard of the greatness that was Walter Payton. A revered name for his on and off field prowess. Yet, I knew very, very little about the real man, and apparently, most of the world knew little about him as well. Thus, this book. Those who bought hook, line and sinker into the mythology of Payton would be in for a rude awakening. Yes, he grew up in segregation Mississippi and went from a virtual unknow ...more
Jalen Townsend
Aug 25, 2015 Jalen Townsend rated it it was amazing
Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton by Jeff Pearlman was an excellent book. When I first picked it out it sounded like it was going to be the average book, but it was the complete opposite. I expected to be about some old football player but the more I read the more I could relate some of his sport struggles to mine. This book would be perfect for a person who knows football because they can probably relate to some situations he had. This book for me helped me understand the struggles ...more
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Jeff Pearlman is an American sports writer. He has written two books about baseball and was the author of the infamous John Rocker interview in Sports Illustrated. In October 2011 he released his fifth book, a biography of Walter Payton titled, "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton." It spent four weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Pearlman was born and raised in Mahopac, New Y
More about Jeff Pearlman...

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