clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jeff Pearlman responds to critics of his upcoming Walter Payton biography

I won't try to persuade anyone in any particular direction, but did want to point out that Jeff Pearlman has posted a response to all of the critics of his upcoming book on Walter Payton.  You can read his full article here, and find an excerpt below.  After reading his article, let us know if your opinion has changed at all.

I’m not sure if people—the angry people—understand or care to understand. Two and a half years ago, when I embarked on this project, Chicagoans were—across the board—elated. "Walter Payton! What a great subject for a biography! Awesome!" And they were right. Walter Payton is a great subject for a biography. He’s an icon. He’s beloved. He’s misunderstood. He’s mysterious. Truthfully, I’ve never come across a better subject. Ever. But here’s the thing—"definitive" biography means definitive. To try and tackle a man’s life—his entire life—is daunting. Of course, you write about the touchdowns and the bootlegs; about 275 yards (with a screaming-high fever) and Super Bowl XX and Jim McMahon and Willie Gault. But, and this is the rough part, you are not a public relations executive. You are a journalist, trying to paint the full picture. The FULL picture. You have to, in the name of honesty; in the name of authenticity. Otherwise, why have biographies at all? Why look back at the lives of JFK and Ronald Reagan and MLK and Malcolm X and Jim Morrison and Marilyn Monroe and on and on and on? What’s to learn … to understand … to appreciate if all we do is turn the deceased into unflawed icons?

What’s the point of history, if history can only be approved talking points?