Canada Payton's place

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:05 PM ET

Growing up with a well-know father was obviously tough for Jarrett Payton, but he was never overshadowed by Walter Payton's accomplishments.

Sweetness never would have allowed that.

Sure, it was nearly impossible for young Jarrett to go out in public with Walter at home in Chicago because Bears fans would mob them.

But Jarrett had as normal a childhood as could be expected, even when football wasn't a huge part of it. There was never an expectation Jarrett would become a pro player, which he is now with the Montreal Alouettes, because his father was so supportive.

"I played soccer from when I was three until my sophomore year of high school," Jarrett said. "He loved that I did that. There was never any pressure from him.

"My dad was so cool, he didn't care what I did as long as I was having fun. He was at every soccer game. When I switched to football, I understood I had to work hard at it."

Payton joined the Alouettes this season and quickly emerged as the starting running back for the veteran team. He took the No. 34, one digit higher than the one his father wore with the Chicago Bears.

Although the shadow of Walter has followed him to Canada, Jarrett certainly doesn't mind.

"When I stop talking about him, or people stop talking to me about him, I will be sad," Jarrett said. "I can never be upset about (the attention I get) because of what he did on and off the field. How many people do you know who get bigger when they die?

"I love talking about what kind of man he was, and I'm just trying to mirror what he did. In Canada, I can be me and it feels so good."

The 26-year-old had a successful college career with the Miami Hurricanes and played one season with the Tennessee Titans before being released last year.

He took a chance on the CFL, and although it's not the league that made his father famous, Jarrett is sure Walter wouldn't care.

"He would be so happy right now, just pleased that I was playing," Jarrett said. "He would have so proud of me not giving up.

"When things didn't look good with situations in the NFL, I came here not knowing anything about it. I stuck with it. He always make it clear to me to take advantage of my opportunities."


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