The Bears had only been able to get to the playoffs twice in Payton’s earlier years. Change was coming and it came in the form of Mike Ditka. The former Chicago Bear tight end was hired to replace Neil Armstrong in 1982 and things appeared to be looking up for Payton and the rest of the Bears. It was a step in the right direction.
On their way to a Super Bowl Payton made a huge “pit stop” in 1984. During that season, Payton broke the single season rushing record previously held by Jim Brown. The mark was 12,312 yards. Payton would own that record until 2002 when Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith would break it.
The 1984 season saw Payton rush for over 1400 yards. The 1985 season, the season where it all came together for the Bears was a big one for him as he ran for over 1500 yards.
The exploits of the 1985 season are well-known but what most fans will remember, aside from the victory in the Super Bowl itself, is the Super Bowl Shuffle. Do you think that Payton would have missed a chance to strut his stuff and show the world his musical capability? He didn’t pass up the chance. He may have had the best part in the entire video.
Chicago went on to a 46-10 win in the Super Bowl, against the New England Patriots, that season. Payton was held to zero touchdowns in the postseason including the Super Bowl. Some think that the coaching staff didn’t give him the opportunity to score, especially in the Super Bowl and Ditka did say that he was not happy about Walter not having a touchdown in the biggest game of Payton’s life. But if you look at the game you will notice that the New England defenders were concentrating heavily on Payton. This was confirmed by quarterback Jim McMahon. Payton could do a lot of damage and the opponent did what they could to take him out.
There are fans in some circles that think that it was unfair that William “The Refrigerator” Perry got into the end zone on a play that Payton could have easily scored on. People still talk about this over thirty years later.