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Payton Bedridden After Opening Day

April 13, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) _ NFL great Walter Payton, suffering from a rare liver disease, called off a personal appearance and was in bed today after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day at Wrigley Field.

Payton, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher as a tailback with the Chicago Bears, was scheduled to speak to the Machinery/Materials Conference and Exposition this morning at Chicago’s McCormick Place. But his appearance was canceled at the last minute, convention spokesman Leo Nadolske said.

Nadolske said he was told that Payton went to bed sick Monday right after arriving home from Wrigley Field and his first public appearance in months.

Payton’s spokeswoman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment and the phone at Payton’s business headquarters in suburban Chicago went unanswered today.

At Wrigley, the 44-year-old Payton looked decidedly healthier than he did more two months ago when he announced that he needed a liver transplant because he was suffering from primary sclerosing cholangitis. He was placed on the transplant list at Mayo Clinic in February.

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