On September 23, 2020 we lost another great athlete by the name of Gale Sayers. Sayers played running back for the Chicago Bears for six years (1965-1971).
Let me begin by saying I am not a Chicago Bears fan, but I do love the sport of football. I enjoy watching old footage of games and seeing players I never had the opportunity to see. Gale Sayers was one of those players, I mean my man was smooth as silk on the field.
Sayers was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 and at that time he was 34 years old, which makes him the youngest person to recieve the honor. He is also the last player to record 6 touchdowns in one game ( 4 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD and 1 punt return TD) no one has yet to break this record.
In his rookie year he set a record with 22 touchdowns as a rookie, i forgot to mention that 6 touchdown game was as a rookie. His career was cut short due to injuries but he had 5 efficient seasons for the Chicago Bears, he earned four Pro Bowl apprearances and five first All Pro selections, even though he never won a championship he did win some awards ( Rookie of the year and NFL Comeback player of the year).
He was also named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team as a halfback and kick returner, the only player to do so for two positions on the team. He was also inducted into College Football Hall of Fame for his acheivements at the University of Kansas.
He is also wrote an autobiography titled “I Am Third” which was the starting point for the made for TV movie “Brian’s Song“. This movie help spread Sayers name to the masses beyond the sports world. This 1971 flick starred Billy Dee Williams as Sayers where Williams likened Sayers running skills to “ballet” and “poetry”.
Some of his former teammates have nothing but the highest regards for him; Mike Ditka who was a teammate of Sayers for two NFL seasons called him “the greatest player i’ve ever seen. That’s right the greatest.” Another former teammate, linebacker Dick Butkus, famous for his tackling ability, said of Sayers:
He had this ability to go full speed, cut and then go full speed again right away. I saw it every day in practice. We played live, and you could never get a clean shot on Gale. Never.
On his ability to escape from tight situations, Sayers once said, “Just give me 18 inches of daylight. That’s all I need.” He felt if his blockers created 18 inches of space for him to run through, he could break a run into the open field. This quick acceleration became a patent of his running style, although some of it was lost following the injury to his right knee. After the injury, he relied more on tough running and engaging tacklers for extra yards.
In March 2017, Sayers’ wife, Ardythe, revealed that he had been diagnosed with dementia four years prior. She stated that a Mayo Clinic doctor confirmed it was likely caused by his football career. “It wasn’t so much getting hit in the head,” she said. “It’s just the shaking of the brain when they took him down with the force they play the game in.” While he remained physically healthy, the disease had an adverse effect on his mental health and memory in particular, making simple tasks such as signing his own name difficult. After suffering from dementia for several years, Sayers died on September 23, 2020 at the age of 77. Rest in peace to one of the best to ever do it, Gale Sayers AKA “The Kansas Comet”.