Athletes & Celebrities

Today in Fit History: Walter Payton Becomes the NFL’s All-Time Rushing Leader

The Bears great held the record for 18 years before Emmitt Smith topped it.

October 7, 1984

On this day in 1984, Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears became the NFL’s all-time rushing leader when he surpassed Jim Brown’s then record of 12,312 yards.

Payton, who played with the Bears from 1975-1987, went on to rush for 16,726 yards in an incredible career during which he was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and was part of the Bears team that defeated the New England Patriots at Super Bowl XX.

Payton was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and is ranked as the fifth best player in NFL History (see video below). The mark set by the man who wore the number 34 shirt stood until 2002, when Emmitt Smith topped it on his way to a career total of 18,355 yards.

In his autobiography, Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton, the former Jackson State University player wrote about what he considered a winner to be. If there was ever a quote that any M&Fer could use as an inspiration, then this one might be it:

“If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it is as a winner. You know what a winner is? A winner is somebody who has given his best effort, who has tried the hardest they possibly can, who has utilized every ounce of energy and strength within them to accomplish something. It doesn't mean that they accomplished it or failed, it means that they've given it their best. That's a winner.”