"Come on, ask questions!" he says.
But he's back in the woods now, sizing up his stand of trees.
"Think this one's dead?" he asks.
It looks dead.
Payton wiggles it back and forth and pulls it out of the ground.
"How about this one?"
He rocks it back and forth, branches falling on his hat and shoulders, the soft earth giving way. He pulls it up and out.
Payton is always doing things for kids—throwing benefits for sick ones, playing games with healthy ones, consoling troubled ones. He has told the Bears' p.r. office always to let him know if there's something he can do for children. It just may be that he has too much kid in him to be perfectly at ease with adults.
Even this ripping up of trees is fun for Payton. It takes brute strength, and there's conflict involved. Will the tree come out? Will it smack him in the face? And, of course, it's a workout. But above all, this is a good time.