Jarrett Payton

Jarrett Payton taking on bullying with celebrity bowl

Brandon Marshall may have claimed that his Twitter dust-up with a Detroit Lions fan was intended to launch an anti-bullying campaign but Jarrett Payton and his foundation are taking a more constructive approach.

The Jarrett Payton Foundation will host its first-ever “Strike Against Bullying Celebrity Bowling Event" on Thursday, Mar. 5 at Kings Bowl, 5505 Park Place in Rosemont. This event is intended to grow into an annual gathering where celebrities and the general public come together for a night of great bowling, delicious food and festivities to support a great cause. Proceeds from the event will help fund Foundation programs that include “Project: No Bull” and the Jarrett Payton Leadership Academy.

The Jarrett Payton Foundation’s mission is to positively impact the lives of children and adolescents by creating and providing programs that develop leadership skills and enrich their lives. In support of this mission, Jarrett travels to schools around Chicagoland to spread his anti-bullying message and the Foundation puts on numerous events a year to support this cause.

Jarrett will be joined by celebrity guests George McCaskey, Charles “Peanut” Tillman, Jerry Azumah, Rashied Davis, Peggy Kusinski, Ryan Baker, Dionne Miller, John Garcia, David Haugh, David Kaplan, Jim Cornelison, Israel Idonije, Chris Boden and this reporter, to name a few.

Ticket prices are $50 for General Admission and $100 for VIP. VIP tickets include VIP Reception with Meet and Greet and food. Both General Admission and VIP tickets include: two drink tickets, pizza, upper viewing deck to watch the bowling, and access to celebrity bowlers. Registration for the “Strike Against Bullying Celebrity Bowling Event” is open to the public and can be completed at http://jarrettpayton.org/event/strike-against-bullying/.

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Jarrett Payton speaks to the Schaumburg Business Association

Jarrett Payton, the son of the late Walter Payton, the star Chicago Bears running back, was the featured speaker at Tuesday's Schaumburg Business Association breakfast. His topic was "Discovering Your Greatness."

Payton played in five major bowl games in five years for the University of Miami (Florida), was MVP of the 2004 Orange Bowl, and played in the NFL for two years with the Tennessee Titans. That was followed by time with teams in Europe and Canada, and with the Chicago Slaughter.

Now he works as a radio and TV personality, and motivational speaker, as well as working with the Walter & Connie Payton Foundation, dedicated to the emotional healing of neglected, abused and underprivileged children. He and his wife also have established The Jarrett Payton Foundation, working with Chicago area schools to implement anti-bullying messages.

The breakfast was at Chandler's Banquets at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

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VIDEO: Jarrett Payton, NFL greats raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation

As the son of one of pro football’s all-time greats, Jarrett Payton has had the unique opportunity to meet many other outstanding players during his lifetime.

Yet Payton never has taken that privilege for granted. Representing his late father, Walter Payton, during this week’s Pro Football Hall of Fame “Salute to Greatness” events in Glenview has provided Jarrett with the ability to chat with 17 Pro Football Hall of Fame players. A dinner Monday night and golf outing on Tuesday at the Glen Club have helped raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“To me it’s actually an honor to have an opportunity to be in a room with all of these legends,” Payton said. “I think a lot of people really don’t understand that these are some of the greatest athletes to ever play sports. Last night, seeing Kellen Winslow and Anthony Munoz and guys like Warren Moon … these are guys I looked up to growing up."

Jarrett Payton starred at the University of Miami before playing briefly in the NFL and the Canadian Football League. He also played in NFL-Europe. He said he was proud to represent his father in this event because of Walter’s extensive involvement in charity events.

“A lot of these guys have the opportunity to really use football as an avenue to help their lives and their families. To see them giving back to the community and all of the great things that Make-A-Wish does."

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Jarrett Payton shares the lessons his father instilled in him

On June 3, I will be representing my father, Walter Payton, at a Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner at The Glen Club in Glenview. I will be surrounded by 17 Hall of Famers, all of whom will be in town to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Illinois and to promote the positive values of sports — values that were once instilled in me by my dad. When I was growing up, he constantly stressed the importance of hard work, studying the game and practicing until perfection.

These values have helped me immeasurably throughout my life — and to do something at age 12 that no child had done before me.

Twenty years ago this August, I inducted my father into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My dad told me what I was doing 2 ½ months before we were to go to Canton, Ohio, for the ceremony. I didn’t understand the magnitude of what he was asking.

The first time I understood was when the Hall sent books to our house that showed an aerial shot of the thousands of people who attend the ceremony. That’s when I realized that this was no joke. This was not getting up and speaking in front of your sixth-grade class.

The speech I ended up giving was written by Ms. Luna, our longtime housekeeper. I would sit at our kitchen island in our house on Mundhank in South Barrington and practice, practice and practice.

The week leading up to the big day was filled with activities. My dad was constantly being pulled in different directions, but he always made time for the two of us. One day, after signing hundreds of footballs, my dad and I drove around and found an arcade — no matter what city we were in, my dad and I would always find an arcade and lose ourselves in father-son time.

I still remember the actual ceremony to this day. When my dad reached the podium, he started to cry. It was the first time I ever saw him cry. He said it was because he was proud of me.

As I got older, my dad continued to teach me to study the game of football. People may think of him as a constant workout monster — he was known for running hills — but he actually watched more film than anything else. He would sit in our basement with old reels of film from either his games or an upcoming opponent, and he’d watch over and over again, studying every play.

In 1997, during my junior year at St. Viator, I finally started playing football. My dad would tape all of my games. He wouldn’t sit in the stands; he would take his own video camera and climb way up onto the top of the press box so he wouldn’t be distracted. It was pretty high up, and sometimes he would just sit by himself, through cold weather, rain or wind.

After he recorded the games, we’d sit on the floor in his basement office and watch them over and over again. We had a teacher-student relationship there; he would tell me, “The eye in the sky never lies.”

I know that the Hall of Famers coming to Chicago made it there by studying the game like my dad did. I can’t wait to shake hands with all of them, and to share stories about my dad.

As Father’s Day approaches, I think about that special week in Canton that we had together. I’m so honored to be representing him yet again, and I hope I have a chance to shed a tear one day to show how proud I am of my own young son.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner and golf outing will be held Monday and Tuesday at The Glen Club, 2901 W. Lake, Glenview. For more information visit Profootballhof.com/chicago-salute-to-greatness.aspx.

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VIDEO: Jarrett Payton interview on SportsManRadio

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