I never had a dad that was a superstar professional athlete but I can imagine it would be pretty difficult. I mean, it would be tough even if you were in another field (as Jarret points out in a ridiculous story below), but if you take up the same profession? Geesh. I just happened to be watching one of George Foreman’s sons in the ring a few days ago and the comparisons were running through my mind. Jarrett Payton sounds like he is entirely comfortable knowing that he’ll come nowhere close to his father’s status. He realizes that there are far more important things in life than breaking touchdown records and such. He’s not ashamed to tell a national audience he called the coach of a Canadian Football League team to ask for a job. Payton brings his act to Toronto and despite being 29 this December, I feel like the addition of his brand of character will end up being a positive, no matter what his contributions are on the field. Payton joined The Fan 590 in Toronto to discuss the heckling he received as a child, why he took a year off football, and how he tries to emulate his father.
Why didn’t you take a year off from football?
“I was preparing myself to hopefully get a call from somewhere but it just didn’t happen so I just kept myself ready. And, I think everything happens for a reason. I ended up getting married in March so it was actually good timing for me to be home, get married, be with my wife a little bit, and then get my batteries recharged. I was just looking for an opportunity to come somewhere and show that I could still play again, that I still had that drive, and still had that love. Getting the chance to come up here, that is something I’m very thankful for.”
Did you reach out to Coach Bart Andrus or did he reach out to you?
“We kinda reached out to him and I was on CFL.CA like everyday just checking to see what was going on up here in Canada when I was in the States. When I saw it (Andrus’ hiring), I was hoping it was something that maybe would come through. I’m just blessed that I’m actually here and I’m comfortable with the staff, the guys here are unbelievable too, this is an unbelievable organization. I just hope that I have a chance to be here and be with this team.”
How have you handled the comparisons to your father?
“I played soccer from when I was three years old till my sophomore year in high school and I was on the soccer field and people were still always yelling at me on the sideline, ‘You’ll never be like your dad!’ I would go, ‘What are you talking about? I’m playing a whole different sport!’ So, the comparisons have been there no matter what I’ve done, but to be honest with you, I strive to be like him more off the field. He was a greater man than he was a football player… The biggest thing for him was, ‘Be yourself. You’ll never be me. There will never be another Walter Payton but to to be yourself and to make your own name.’ That’s one thing that he always stressed to me.”