September 16, 2009
If it's your own personal Walter Payton statue for your home, that might be a difficult question to answer. Or, if you're the neighbor of that other Chicago legend, Clark W. Griswold, you might not like the answer.
If you're the city of Chicago, though, the answer's simple, right? You take it, you put it in front of Solder Field, and you let people admire it for generations to come. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Except it's not that easy. As it turns out, the Chicago Park District doesn't want the statue in front of Soldier Field, because the area surrounding the stadium is designated strictly as a memorial to war veterans. No running backs allowed.
The Park District has offered to put the statue, which is being donated by Walter Payton's family, in any other park in the city. Some people -- for example, 83% of these people, this guy and this guy -- don't find that to be a reasonable solution.
Now, this is not my argument. I'm not a Chicagoan, I'm not a war veteran, I'm not a member of the Payton family, and I've only driven past Soldier Field. If you're interested, though, here's my outsider's perspective.
Even if Soldier Field is meant as a memorial to war veterans, it also serves a memorial to the Chicago Bears. Tens of thousands of people gather there on Sundays, and why? To watch football, not to honor veterans. That doesn't mean they don't like veterans or believe that veterans should be honored, but that's not why they're there.
The point is that you can't just write football out of the equation, because that's what policy dictates. Football is there. Football makes the existence of Soldier Field, the giant memorial to our nation's beloved veterans, possible.
It's not like we're talking about putting a statue of Payton on top of the Vietnam War Memorial. No one's suggesting making a statue of Payton breaking the tackle of one of these fellows. No one wants a statue of Walter spiking a football next to these guys.
Soldier Field, though, is not an inappropriate environment. Football is present there. At the entrance to Soldier Field is where the statue would probably be most appreciated. Put the statue there, surrounded by a well where people can toss coins, and collect those coins and give them to foundations for disabled veterans.
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