Agent denies book's claims that Payton was addicted to drugs

Bud Holmes, longtime agent of Walter Payton, told TMZ.com that his comments in a new book about the Hall of Fame running back were taken out of context and that his late client wasn't a drug addict, the website reported Saturday.

"(Payton) was not hooked on drugs," Holmes said. "He wasn't an addict. He didn't abuse drugs or use illegal drugs."

In the soon-to-be-released book, "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton", author Jeff Pearlman writes that Payton used a cocktail of Tylenol and Vicodin during his retirement, kept tanks of nitrous oxide in his garage and even obtained Ritalin from a friend whose son was prescribed pills.

Excerpts of the book, released this week in Sports Illustrated, quote Holmes as saying, "Walter was pounding his body with medication." But Holmes said he was referring to pills "only used to alleviate the aches and pains he got from playing the game we watch on Sundays."

Holmes told TMZ that he would take legal action if he believes he was misquoted after he reads the book.

Without even hitting bookstores, Pearlman's biography of Payton has drawn the ire of Bears fans. Former Bears coach Mike Ditka said this week that he would spit on Pearlman and called the book "despicable."

Payton spent all 13 of his NFL seasons with the Bears and retired as the league's all-time leading rusher after the 1987 season. He died from a rare liver disease and bile duct cancer in 1999.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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