After spending the last 14 years running the ball everywhere from Arlington Heights to Miami to Amsterdam to Montreal to Hoffman Estates, Jarrett Payton stopped running this year.
“It was weird to give up,” Payton said. “But there’s more to life than playing football.”
And the 30-year-old Barrington native has started running harder than ever to keep up with all of his keening interests.
As Payton enthusiastically shifts from topic to topic, he punctuates the changes with a high-pitched laugh that sounds remarkably similar to a particular Bears Hall of Fame running back.
•The radio career: What began last year as a three-days-a-week gig on chicagolandsportsradio.com (“The Jarrett Payton Show” on M-W-F from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) has mushroomed into appearances on WMVP 1000-AM.
Did you notice his presence Sunday night on the station’s postgame Bears coverage?
“I’ve always had a passion for radio,” Payton said last week while sitting in his studio on South State Street in the Loop.
Last November on the anniversary of his father’s passing, Payton hosted a “Remembering Sweetness” show and used his contacts to get a star-studded cast to call in: Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“It was so huge,” Payton said. “I couldn’t really wrap my head around what happened until I got done.
“I take it as a responsibility to keep my Dad’s spirit alive. As long as football is around, he will be around.”
•The writing career: He’s putting together a book tentatively titled “Letters to My Dad.”
“It’s stuff I’ve been writing to my dad for years,” Payton said. “I wrote him a letter when I went to (the University of) Miami. I wrote him a letter when I got married (in 2009). Hopefully we can do it by Father’s Day. I think it will be motivational.”
•The beer career: Working in conjunction with Chicago-based Argus Brewery, Payton thinks he will have the first product for his “JP” line of beers within the next month.
He envisions the “JP” private label taking a place next to “312” and “Goose Island” at Chicago’s taps.
“I want to get into the market,” Payton said. “I want to know everything from the bottom up. I’m learning a lot.”
He’s learning nothing comes easy in the business and brewery worlds, but Payton believes his limitless energy and unforgettable surname can help him succeed.
“I’m actually going to come in and do the deliveries,” Payton said. “You’re going to see me bringing in the kegs. I’m going to put in the sweat equity.
“And if you put my beer in your bar, I’ll make appearances there. Do shows from there. I’m excited.”
•The volunteer career: He has worked for years on behalf of the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation, but Jarrett wants to do even more for the community.
He started the Jarrett Payton Foundation recently to address more causes he wants to solve. When he speaks at schools in October, he will focus on anti-bullying programs.
“I’m just trying to add on to what I was taught by my parents,” Payton said.
With all of his passions, it’s hard to believe he finds time to repair to his home in the western suburbs.
“I’m working on it all,” he said. “It’s just me, my wife and a couple friends. I don’t sleep that much, but it’s cool.”
He still finds time to dream about running again, but not in a Payton way. In a Daley way.
“I think I was a born politician,” Payton said with a laugh. “I’ve talked about running for mayor. Maybe in the next 15-20 years.”