(CBS) — Six days until Super Bowl 50, one of the guests heading to the big game is Connie Payton, the wife of Bears legend Walter Payton.
Payton was one of the most popular players in NFL history, and Connie will help choose the recipient of the Man of the Year award in his honor.
Ahead of her trip, she sat down with CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole and spoke candidly about the dangers of the sport.
Connie Payton looks back on her late husband’s legendary career, shares stories about their young grandson and smiles.
“This kid is so much like Walter,” she said.
Theirs was a marriage based as much on community service as football. Connie Payton and her two children continue that mission today.
“Everybody sees the rough, tough Walter running the football field, but there was this real soft side of him,” Connie said.
This Super Bowl weekend, Connie Payton will again help choose the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, from players nominated by each team for their positive impact on the community.
“They have been given a blessing and they are really willing to bless other people because truly that’s how Walter and I lived our lives,” she said. “We were blessed.”
This year’s matchup comes amid growing awareness of the significant impact of concussions on players.
“Even me, I am like why would anyone want to do this if they know this and see this, why would anyone want to play?” Connie said.
Doctors have shared medical research with Payton that she called life-changing.
“I would never want my grandson to play,” Connie Payton said. “As much as I love the sport and I’m really thankful for what the sport did for us.”
She added, “There were things that happened even in our lives I didn’t understand.”
A recent biography revealed Walter Payton at times struggled with depression.
“Now things are clear as why certain things happened,” she said.
Connie says even if he knew about the risks, Walter would have still played.
“I think he would still play the game knowing what he knows he would play the game,” she said.
Many of the 1985 Bears, understandably, were discussing the subject of concussions at last week’s Super Bowl reunion, Connie said.