The 6 Greatest 'Flu Games' in Sports History

Everyone remembers MJ's iconic flu game, but a number of other stars have delivered strong performances despite severe illness.

6. Sickness Can't Slow Sweetness On Record-Setting Day

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6. Sickness Can\'t Slow Sweetness On Record-Setting Day

While Jordan's flu game may be the most iconic, Walter Payton's flu game might be the most impressive.

The date was November 20th, 1977. The Minnesota Vikings were coming to Soldier Field to visit Payton's Chicago Bears, but the star running back was seriously ill.

Despite an 101-degree temperature and severe flu-like symptoms, Payton took the field on that rainy, cold Sunday. 

"I didn't know if I was going to make it through introductions," he later told the Chicago Sun-Times. 

What followed was nothing short of miraculous.

Payton carried the ball 40 times for 275 rushing yards and a touchdown, leading the Bears to a 10-7 victory. The performance broke the NFL single-game rushing record O.J. Simpson had set the previous season.

"Forty (carries)?" Payton asked reporters after the game. "It felt like 20. I didn't know it was that many. I did have to suck it up a little at times." 

It was a performance that personified both guts and greatness.

"I had hot and cold flashes on Wednesday and felt weak," Payton told the Chicago Tribune. "I didn't even think I was going to play. You put your faith in God and he'll take care of you. I was hoping he would do so today, and he did."

The Bears went on to win their final four games, finishing 9-5 to earn a playoff bid. Payton went on to win the 1977 AP NFL MVP award after leading the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and rushing attempts.

His single-game rushing record would stand for the next 23 years.


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