Q&A: Meet Jarrett Payton
A National Champion, Orange Bowl MVP, running back for the University of Miami FL, and later Tennessee Titan, Jarrett Payton lived a legacy far greater than his on-field accomplishments. From South Barrington, Illinois, meet Walter Payton’s son and his father’s career advice that he reminds himself of to this day.
What do you remember most about Payton’s Hill, now at Nickol Knoll golf course?
My dad trained there for all of his career, through the dog days of summer, getting ready, perfecting his craft, and running hills. He was ahead of his time; while other teammates and players were in the weight room, he improved his on-field carries. This style of running up the hills helped with a forward lean, which assisted him as a running back, running through defenses and knocking guys over. It created lower body strength. Run up a hill, have the forward lean. He would run all kinds of trails on that hill to prepare himself for the season better.
Did you ever train on the hill, or prepare like your father did?
I never got the opportunity to train in season on the hill since the course had already been built, but I sure was there watching him train.
Do any athletes in the area carry the Walter Payton mindset and hard work/determination?
Yea, for sure. I’ve been to Nickol Knoll a couple of times, once with Jordan Howard – we saw the course and had a lot of great conversation. It truly was a great opportunity to talk about my dad because Jordan was very receptive of my dad’s workout regime. Jordan prepared. When you come into an organization where you have such a legend to follow, you must prepare. It’s tough; in some ways, he and David Montgomery know the Walter Payton standard.
What did your father teach you growing up, and what do you still take with you today?
Hard work and preparation, that was the only way he knew how to do things. You don’t quit when you lose, don’t quit when the games out of hand, you’re always going, working harder and harder. That was just a way of life for him as well. It carried over to everything that he did on and off the field. It was hard not to follow that path when you’re a kid; that’s the example that he set. It’s been instilled with me as a kid. You must be able to use it in some area of your life. Being able to see that and be around that is key.
What kind of player would your father be in today’s game?
In today’s NFL game – he’d enjoy it! He would say he’d fit into this day and age; the modern-day game fit, he’d fit right in. He could catch, run, throw, block, whatever he needed to do. There’s be more options for him; it would suit his style of play. He would probably think he could play for a lot longer too. Back then, it was, ‘let’s give you the ball 200 times a year,’ and it’s rough on your body. Today’s game would give him life to spread out and be a pass catcher.
What style of his game did you most represent on the field?
Probably running hard. Just always got to run hard, hitting people, running into people. I always felt like my game got better as the game went on. Get a couple of carries under your belt, being a bruiser! Not being afraid. Watch the videos of him and that’s what you see. He didn’t like to run out of bounds, he wanted to hit people, run over people.
What player would you compare him to in today’s game?
I don’t know. My dad was a monster. He was good at everything. Adrian Peterson kind of reminds me of him and out of the backfield.