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updated: 6/24/2014 12:12 AM

Two NFL reruns make for prime-time viewing

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  • For Mike North, a great weekend includes watching the NFL Network documentary on Walter Payton's life followed by a replay of Super Bowl XX.

    For Mike North, a great weekend includes watching the NFL Network documentary on Walter Payton's life followed by a replay of Super Bowl XX.


The NFL Network had perfect timing last weekend for me and all Bears fans.

First it showed "Walter Payton -- A Football Life," which captured the essence of the legendary running back from his tight relationship with fullback and dear friend Matt Suhey to the family struggles that encompassed this gladiator.

Walter's wife, Connie, and children Jarrett and Brittney were genuine and honest about the man. I am not embarrassed to admit I loved Walter, who treated me as an equal and with respect.

Payton was ultracompetitive and lived his life with a certain joy -- always quick with that contagious smile. It was difficult to watch the final minutes of the documentary as Payton's physically intimidating athletic body dissolved with his illness.

Walter was a prankster and loved pulling jokes on people, but he sure didn't appreciate it when the roles were reversed.

Many years ago, when Dan Jiggetts and I hosted a Score golf outing with Walter, I recruited my brother Danny and a few friends to show up in a van. As they exited, two were wearing Barry Sanders jerseys, two were wearing Emmitt Smith jerseys and two were wearing Gale Sayers jerseys.

I think the Sayers jerseys bothered Payton the most because of the hometown rivalry factor. He didn't find it too funny and wouldn't talk to me for half of the day.

Of course, Payton eventually stopped the angry act and laughed with me over it later. Walter was just a heck of a guy.

My weekend was complete when the NFL Network then doubled down and showed a replay of Super Bowl XX with the Bears and the New England Patriots and all the familiar characters.

My wife walked in to say something to me, and really all I wanted to do was watch the game. Hey, I know how it turned out, but it still makes for great TV.

At one point the Bears had 21 first downs to only 4 for the Patriots. We always remember the great defense, but the offense wasn't bad either.

As I watched the Bears dominate, I thought sadly of how some of the stories have unfolded for these '85 Super Bowl champs.

Dave Duerson gone from suicide, William "the Fridge" Perry in ill health, the punky QB Jim McMahon suffering from memory loss, and, of course, the passing of Payton.

Several guys still are doing well, probably none better than the legendary Mike Ditka, who is going strong at 74 and enjoying good health and popularity.

I love watching reruns of movies and "The Three Stooges" episodes, and even though it has been close to 30 years since Super Bowl XX, I'll always watch these two NFL shows again and again.

Program notes:

Follow me on Twitter@ north2north, and listen to Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and myself from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio, and check me out on iHeart radio or

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at For more, visit

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