Connie Payton (right) and daughter Brittney wipe tears during a halftime dedication to Walter Payton on the 10th anniversary of his death in 2009. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:51AM
There will be much interest in the upcoming biography of Walter Payton — but his wife says she won’t read it.
Connie Payton, in an interview with WLS-Channel 7, disputed some parts of author Jeff Pearlman’s explosive new biography of the NFL legend.
But she also confirmed other parts — including assertions that Payton contemplated suicide. She told Channel 7 that he discussed it with her.
“Truly if he wanted to do, he had the resources to do it, you know, the guns,” Connie Payton said.
Pearlman writes that Walter Payton used painkillers heavily during his playing days — and even more when he retired. His widow, who said she did not cooperate with Pearlman on the book, was surprised by that, Channel 7 reported.
“I didn’t see him take a Tylenol, so I know I didn’t see him take anything stronger,” she told the station.
But she did acknowledge she met Walter Payton’s mistress at his Hall of Fame induction. “It did make it stressful, but I was more concerned about my parents and the kids and the family,” she said. “I knew I would be OK.”
Channel 7 reported that Connie Payton acknowledged she and her husband lived separate lives in the decade before he died in 1999. But on his deathbed, they connected. “He truly knew then that through it all, and all of the ups and downs, and all of the people he felt betrayed him, that I was the only person that truly ever had his back, that he can trust,” Connie Payton said. “To me, that made it all worth it.”
She said she has been talking with doctors about the possibility he suffered brain damage as a player, something that could have impacted his behavior.
Their son, Jarrett, thanked people for their love and support via Twitter Wednesday. “At times #life gets hard; we will stand up & stay strong!”