Veteran journalist and author Jeff Pearlman offered a comprehensive look at the late Walter Payton in a book “Sweetness” and now the Hall of Fame running back’s brother Eddie Payton has published “Walter & Me,” a book that basically rebuts much of Pearlman’s lengthy biography.
Pearlman touched on some issues such as depression, drug use and womanizing and some were outraged even if the book took a look at the former Chicago Bears great from an all-encompassing point of view.
So, Eddie Payton has fired back and so has Mike Ditka, who wrote the introduction for the new book. Ditka, who criticized Pearlman when “Sweetness” was released and said he would spit on the author, questions the legitimacy of Pearlman’s book, which was researched for 2 ½ years.
“I have to ask, how well did the writer really know him?” Ditka wrote of Pearlman. “Did he grow up with him? Was he on the field with him? Did he live with him? Was he a parent? Was he a coach? Was he a player? In the case of Jeff Pearlman, the answer to those questions is, “no.” Pearlman wrote a book about Walter, but it was written from a distance. It was all secondhand. He put together a few things he’d heard—some of them from people who have very little credibility—to paint a picture that just doesn’t look much like the Walter I knew.
“He’ll always hold a high place in my book, and you couldn’t pay me enough to ever crack open the cover of Pearlman’s book. I know he tried to say you can’t just look in the excerpts, but I saw all I needed to see in those excerpts. It’s pathetic to write something like that about an individual who isn’t here to defend himself. If the person has passed and can’t respond, then just let the speculation rest with him. Period.”
On his Web site, Pearlman has responded by roasting Ditka.
“The book’s introduction is written by Mike Ditka, a person I consider to be, unambiguously, stupid. I would call Ditka’s brain rock-like, only I feel it could be interpreted as an insult to some of the world’s fine rocks,” Pearlman wrote. “Ditka is, in no particular order, a dolt, a bully, a thug, a moron, an ass and a fool. He also happens to be the man who coached the Bears to the Super Bowl XX title, which means he can do no wrong in his adopted hometown of Chicago.”
Maybe they will both sell a few books out of this.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune