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Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton Hardcover – October 4, 2011
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“Mr. Halberstam would have been the first to insist that we not confuse fiction with nonfiction, and that we not mistake biography -- the telling of a life -- for hagiography -- the burnishing of a legend. Which was football's big trouble last week, it turns out, as lots of folks who should know better took exception to a new biography of Walter Payton.” –ESPN.com, The Sporting Life
“I found the Walter of your book to be more of a hero than the one people refer to.” – Rick Hogan, WGN Sunday Papers
"Jeff Pearlman has written Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, which depicts Mr. Payton as perhaps the greatest all-around football player ever, a generous teammate and a loving father."-- Scott Simon, NPR's Weekend Edition
“Over the weekend I read an advance copy of Sweetness and found it to be an incredible, thoughtful, deep and profound read. It’s exceptional work. I wouldn’t let an out-of-context excerpt and some enraged condemnations get in the way of a fascinating read about a fascinating man.” – Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
“READ THE BOOK.""But if you like texture, if you want to get the sense of a real life lived by a real person with real beauty within and real warts, start reading and do so with an open mind. " – Bob Kravitz, The Indianapolis Star
"Pearlman did not set out to expose Payton but to understand him, to identify and define the qualities that made him so appealing. He was a football-playing hero to millions, true, but he was also a human being of considerable complexity. There’s a story in how those two sides intersected, and a skilled biographer gets to that story." -- New York Times
"If Walter Payton, magnificent football player and Chicago treasure, is enough for you, ignore the book and cherish your memories. If Walter Payton, flawed but fascinating human being, intrigues you, read it. You might come away with a greater appreciation" -- New York Times
About the Author
Jeff Pearlman is the author of four previous books, including two New York Times bestsellers: The Bad Guys Won! and Boys Will Be Boys. He is a columnist for SI.com, a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, and blogs regularly on jeffpearlman.com. Pearlman and his family live in New York.
Top customer reviews
Walter Payton suffered through that period that several others go through following retirement in regard to what to do with his life. It proved to be a drastic change to him, and he had difficulty finding happiness. We often think of celebrities having the best things that life has to offer, but in Walter Payton's case as in several others, they are beset with problems and difficulties that we know nothing about.
Some reviewers have criticized this book because it appears to denigrate Walter Payton. While Walter had several faults that many of us are spared, it isn't our place to condemn him. I found the book to be an interesting read on a complex individual who brought joy to those who watched this gifted athlete in action. The subtitle "The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton" is entirely appropriate. Although I'm not a particular fan of football I certainly was aware of Walter Payton, and found the book to be an enriching read.
And Payton really was something of a deity on the field - no denying. As football heroes go, he was about as football-heroish as you can get around here (or much of anyplace else, I suppose). A lot of fans reverently mumble a "hallowed be thy name" and that's that. But that also does a disservice, in many ways, to the real man who lived inside that hero. And Payton was a real man.
To present the man in his complexity, with his not-always admirable behavior, is a service to life in general. One doesn't want to make too much of a person who's claim to fame is the ability to play a sport very, very well, but if you DO want to look at a man or woman who excelled at such things, then really look at them. And this book does.
The Payton who emerges here is no less remarkable as an athlete, and his shortcomings and foibles do not render him any less admirable in his strengths and positives. This is an absorbing read about an interesting, flawed man. For those interested in his life and career, it provides three dimensions, not just the two you saw on the field. And part of that third dimension was pretty admirable, too; just not all of it.