Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of Walter Payton’s untimely passing and an apparent end to the ongoing disagreement over a proposed Soldier Field statue of the legendary running back. The Bears aren’t particularly happy about it, however, as the six-foot tall bronze figure now stands on the field of play.
Unveiled during a touching halftime video tribute during Sunday’s 30-6 win over the Browns, the life-size statue was placed near east sideline at the seven-yard line.
“They wanted a statue, so we gave ’em one,” said Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, whose Park District runs Soldier Field. “I can’t help it if the Bears don’t like where we put it. Some people just can’t ever be happy.”
Players had a difficult time adjusting to the statue Sunday, with the Browns losing one defensive back for the season after he blindsided it. Bears coach Lovie Smith said he’s disappointed by the decision to place the statue on the field of play, but was hopeful his players would be able to use its presence as a home-field advantage.
“Luckily our guys have had all season to practice avoiding inanimate objects during live play,” said Smith. “It’s the one good thing about signing Orlando Pace this offseason.”
From the October 2009 issue by Brad Zibung, founder and editor in chief