A new biography on the life of Walter Payton alleges that the NFL Hall of Famer numbed his maladies by robotically ingesting the painkiller Darvon during his playing days, was involved in extramarital dalliances and fell into a depressed state that included heavy self-medication after his NFL career ended in 1987.
Among the other revelations in
Pearlman said he interviewed 678 people for the book, which he worked on for 2 ½ years.
In the book, Pearlman writes:
The book reports that Payton often used nitrous oxide while he was playing and after he retired. Pearlman writes:
The book says that Payton wrote to a friend that he contemplated suicide in his post-football career. Here is another passage from the excerpt:
As for Payton's 23-year marriage to Connie, Pearlman says that "it was a union solely in name."
From the excerpt:
Pearlman said he wanted to write a book about "someone decent; about someone caring" following his Roger Clemens biography. "Walter Payton was insanely curious, and his interest in other people -- regular fans, folks on the street -- extended beyond the scope of nearly any athlete I've ever come across (Sean Casey the possible exception)," Pearlman said. "Best of all, Payton had depth. There was so much beneath the surface with this man. But that was also a problem. Because for all of his depth, Payton spent his life as a lockbox. He trusted very few people, and confided in -- at most -- three or four. The image out there when he played is the same one out there today: Classy guy, perfect in all areas, the ultimate role model, great running back and the ultimate prankster. And while that is, in many ways, sort of true, it's also a cheap, easy and unfair portrait."
Asked if he worried about facing a backlash for tarnishing the image of a deceased man, Pearlman said, "I sure do. It hurts me that this will hurt his kids. It really does because Jarrett and Brittney are wonderful, engaging, fun, caring people and they're really uplifting figures in the Chicago landscape ... That said, I set out to write a definitive biography -- period. When people would ask, 'Well, is this going to be positive?' I'd say, 'Not positive, not negative -- definitive.'"