2:07 am

It’s 2:07 am, and I’m about to go to bed. Just spent the last three hours going through promotional material for Sweetness, talking with different people about excerpts and advertising and whatnot. To be blunt: I want this book to sell. I need this book to sell.

Why? Because I put everything, everything, everything I had into it. I mean—everything. Time, energy, emotion. This will sound sorta goofy, but there were moments—while running late at night—that I felt Walter Payton trotting besides me. Now, I’m aware nobody was there. But I’d spent soooooo much time researching the man; getting to know the man—well, there he was. Wearing his headband and a KangaROOS jacket, asking me how it all was going.

I actually met Payton once. It was 1999, and I was a kid reporter at SI. An editor assigned me to fly out to Chicago and meet him with. This was shortly after the announcement of his illness. I’ll never forget seeing him, sitting across from him. I won’t say much more, but it’s the opening to the book …


Night, night.

2 thoughts on “2:07 am”

  1. Sportswriting Refugee

    Jeff – I will order my copy today. My dad met Walter once – in the bathroom at the Chicago Auto Show during the heyday of the mid-’80s Bears. He often used it as an “Everyone is human” allegory to us.

    Your narrative with meeting him sounds somewhat like how Jane Leavy framed the narrative in her Mickey Mantle book. Though I doubt Walter later tried to grope you.

  2. Keith Ryan Cartwright


    You know whenever you watch a show like “Inside the Actors Studio” and James Lipton talks about the breakthrough moment in an artist’s career? Well, I have a feeling this is going to be your moment.


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