Walter Payton’s brother, Eddie, is out with a new book, Walter & Me. From the preview:
More than a decade after the untimely death of Walter Payton, his older brother recalls the moments they shared and the continuing sting of the loss of a legend. This glimpse into Payton’s life doesn’t sugarcoat the issues or glorify the late superstar, but rather it addresses the subjects of suicide, drug abuse, and infidelity head-on with intimate knowledge of the facts. In this candid take, Walter’s older brotherdiscloses the true life of man simply known as “Sweetness.”
Jeff Pearlman addressed many of those same issues in his biography on Payton, Sweetness. Many folks in Payton’s camp have taken offense to the portrayal, including Eddie.
While promoting his book, Eddie accused Pearlman of misrepresenting himself when the author approached him.
“[Jeff Pearlman] didn’t misrepresent himself. He flat-out lied to me. I never met him. I talked to him on the phone. He introduced himself as a writer for Sports Illustrated; he wanted to come on down; he was thinking about doing an article for Sports Illustrated about Walter; he wanted to meet some of his old teammates, his coaches and yadda yadda yadda. And I was gung ho about that. I introduced him to 10-15 people. And in doing that … about, two … three days later one of the guys comes in and says, “This book ought to sell a bunch of copies.’ I said, ‘What book? He’s writing an article.’ He said, ‘No, he’s writing a book.’ And when I confronted him with it he kind of heed and haaed and heed and haad and said, ‘Well, it may be a book.’ And then we asked him about Walter’s scholarship. And I said, ‘If you’re going to write about the man, you need to help continue what the man was doing.’ And he heed and haaed, and wouldn’t make a commitment, and we pulled. Everybody we knew, we pulled. Because at that point we realized we’d been had. And we’re not gonna go along and be a part of this charade from this a-hole. Who said he’d do one thing and did another. And the book is such a work of garbage and fiction.”
On his site, Pearlman addressed the latest remarks. He doesn’t hold back, calling Eddie “a dolt,” and questioning whether he knew the meaning of the word, biography. Pearlman wrote:
To be 100-percent clear: I did not lie to Eddie Payton and I did not misrepresent myself to Eddie Payton. Never. As I always do when working on a book, I introduce myself thusly: “My name is Jeff Pearlman. I was a longtime Sports Illustrated writer, and I’m the author of X books. I’m working on a biography of Walter, and would love the chance …” This is how I’ve done it for years, this is how I’ll continue to do it. Why? Because SI supplies a backdrop to my career, and the books show I’ve done this before. It establishes my cred, so to speak, which is important.
In hindsight, I suspect that Eddie may well not know what the word “biography” means. I’m not joking or being snide. He has a unique way of mangling and misusing words; Walt Frazier without the smarts. Maybe, just maybe, he didn’t understand. I’m willing to offer that benefit of the doubt, I suppose.