Last Updated: April 25, 2024
Richest AthletesNFL Players
Net Worth:
$3 Million
Jul 25, 1954 - Nov 1, 1999 (45 years old)
5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
American football player
United States of America
💰 Compare Walter Payton's Net Worth

What was Walter Payton's Net Worth?

Walter Payton was an American professional football running back who had a net worth of $3 million. Walter Payton played for the NFL's Chicago Bears from 1975 to 1987. Regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time, he made nine Pro Bowls, was named the NFL MVP in 1977, and won Super Bowl XX with the legendary 1985 Bears. Payton also set records for career rushing yards, touchdowns, carries, and all-purpose yards, among other categories.

Second-Highest Paid NFL Player

In 1979, Walter Payton was the second-highest-paid player in the NFL with a salary of $450,000. That's the same as making around $2 million today. The league's highest-paid player that year was OJ Simpson, in his final NFL season, with a salary of $806,000. At the time the league average was $69,000.

Early Life and High School

Walter Payton was born on July 25, 1953 in Columbia, Mississippi to Alyne and Peter. He has an older brother named Eddie. Growing up, Payton was involved with the Boy Scouts, Little League baseball, and his local church. He attended John J. Jefferson High School, where he played drums in the school marching band and ran track. Payton began playing football in his junior year, and found success as a running back. He helped lead his school to an 8-2 season that year. In addition to football, Payton excelled in basketball.

Collegiate Career

For college, Payton went to the HBCU Jackson State University, where his brother Eddie had played football for the Tigers. In 1973, Payton set a school record with 24 rushing touchdowns and was named Black College Player of the Year; he won that honor again in 1974. He finished his collegiate career at Jackson State with 3,600 rushing yards and a school record of 65 career rushing touchdowns.

Chicago Bears

In the 1975 NFL draft, Payton was drafted in the first round with the fourth overall pick by the Chicago Bears. He had a fairly inauspicious rookie season with the team, finishing with 679 yards and seven touchdowns. Payton improved his performance significantly in 1976 with 1,390 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also earned his first of nine Pro Bowl selections, and was named the MVP of the game. Payton had his breakout season with the Bears in 1977, rushing for 1,852 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns, both the best in the league that season. The Bears ended up having their first winning season in a decade, and reached the Divisional Playoffs. For his incredible 1977 season, Payton was named the NFL MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and NFL Man of the Year. He would go on to score 16 touchdowns again in the 1979 season as the Bears made it back to the playoffs. The team struggled over the subsequent years, failing to put together consecutive winning seasons. However, Payton continued his success, rushing for over 1,400 yards in the 1980, 1983, and 1984 seasons. In the 1984 season, the Bears finished first in the NFC Central and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game, where they were routed by the eventual Super Bowl champs the San Francisco 49ers.

The Bears had arguably their greatest season ever in 1985. Finishing first in the NFC Central for the second consecutive year, this time with a 15-1 record, the team proceeded to rout the New York Giants in the Divisional Playoffs and the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. In Super Bowl XX, the Bears defeated the New England Patriots 46-10, giving the team its first NFL championship title in over two decades. The Bears had another strong season in 1986, again finishing first in the NFC Central. However, the team fell to the Washington Redskins in the Divisional Playoffs. After that season, Payton announced his plans to retire from professional football at the end of the 1987 season. In his final season with the Bears in 1987, he rushed for a career low 533 yards. The Bears managed to finish first in the NFC Central for the fourth consecutive year before losing to the Washington Redskins in the Divisional Playoffs for the second year in a row. Payton finished his 13-year NFL career with a then-record 16,726 rushing yards, to go along with 110 touchdowns. He also set numerous Bears franchise records, including for career rushing yards, touchdowns, and receptions. Payton was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.



After retiring from the NFL, Payton became involved in a number of business ventures. He became a co-owner of Dale Coyne Racing in the IndyCar series, and drove in several Trans-Am Series events. In 1995, Payton and some partners purchased a railway roundhouse in Aurora, Illinois and transformed it into a venue hosting a restaurant, a brewery, a museum, and a banquet and meeting area.

Personal Life and Death

In 1976, Payton married Connie Norwood, with whom he had two children named Jarrett and Brittney. The family resided in South Barrington, Illinois. After 18 years, the marriage abruptly ended when Payton served Norwood divorce papers for joint custody. However, the pair separated without getting an official divorce.

In early 1999, Payton announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare liver disease, as well as cancer. During his final months, he advocated for organ transplants in a number of commercials, and made one last public appearance by throwing the ceremonial first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game. On November 1, 1999, Payton passed away.


Payton's legacy looms large. In addition to being considered one of the greatest football players of all time, he continues his legacy through the charitable Walter and Connie Payton Foundation and the Walter Payton Cancer Fund. Payton's namesake has also been given to Chicago institutions, such as Walter Payton College Prep, as well as to athletic awards, most notably the Walter Payton Award.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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