Negotiates Lucrative Contracts
Having proved his worth to the Bears, Payton in 1978 negotiated contracts that guaranteed him $400,000 for the 1978 season, $425,000 for 1979, and $450,000 plus incentive bonuses for 1980. However, despite the front office's high hopes, Payton's 50 pass receptions and 1,395 yards in rushing yardage were not enough to keep the Bears from another losing season. They ended the 1978 season with a 7-9 record. Payton and fullback Roland Harper, with 992 rushing yards, accounted for 72 percent of the Bears' offense in 1978.
Hampered by a painful pinched nerve in his shoulder through much of the 1979 season, Payton nevertheless managed to rush for 1,610 yards, the best in the NFC. With a 10-6 record, the Bears made it into the playoffs, but they were eliminated in the first round. With a season total of 1,460 yards, Payton snagged his fifth consecutive NFC rushing title in 1980, but it was not enough to keep the Bears from a dismal 7-9 record. The following year was even worse for the Bears, who finished the season with a record of 6-10. Slowed for much of the 1981 season by a sore shoulder and cracked ribs, Payton managed to rush for only 1,222 yards for the season, failing to win the NFC rushing title for the first time in several years.
- Walter Payton - Awards And Accomplishments
- Walter Payton - Breaks Single-game Rushing Record
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