Gale Sayers

Gale Eugene Sayers (born May 30, 1943) is a former professional American football player who earned acclaim both as a halfback and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL). In a brief but highly productive NFL career, Sayers spent seven seasons with the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1971, though multiple injuries effectively limited him to five seasons of play. He was known for his elusiveness and agility, and was regarded by his peers as one of the most difficult players to tackle.

Nicknamed the "Kansas Comet", Sayers played college football for the Kansas Jayhawks football team of the University of Kansas, where he compiled 4,020 all-purpose yards over three seasons and was twice recognized as a consensus All-American. In his rookie NFL season, he set a league record by scoring 22 touchdowns—including a record-tying six in one game—and gained 2,272 all-purpose yards en route to being named the NFL's Rookie of the Year. He continued this production through his first five seasons, earning four Pro Bowl appearances and five first-team All-Pro selections. A right knee injury forced Sayers to miss the final five games of the 1968 season, but he returned in 1969 to lead the NFL in rushing yards and be named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. An injury to his left knee in the 1970 preseason as well as subsequent injuries kept him sidelined for most of his final two seasons.

His friendship with Bears teammate Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer in 1970, inspired Sayers to write his autobiography, I Am Third, which in turn was the basis for the 1971 made-for-TV movie Brian's Song. Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 at age 34, and remains the youngest person to receive the honor. He was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team as a halfback and kick returner, the only player to occupy two positions on the team. For his achievements in college, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame the same year. His jersey number is retired by both the Bears and the University of Kansas. Following his NFL career, Sayers began a career in sports administration and business, and served as the athletic director of Southern Illinois University from 1976 to 1981.

Gale Sayers
refer to caption
Sayers in January 2008
No. 40
Personal information
Born:May 30, 1943 (age 75)
Wichita, Kansas
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:198 lb (90 kg)
Career information
High school:Omaha Central
(Omaha, Nebraska)
NFL Draft:1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
AFL draft:1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
As player:
As administrator:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:4,956
Yards per carry:5.0
Rushing touchdowns:39
Return yards:3,172
Return touchdowns:8
Player stats at

Early years

Born in Wichita, Kansas, and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Gale Eugene Sayers is the son of Roger Winfield Sayers and Bernice Ross. His father was a mechanic for Goodyear, farmed, and worked for auto dealerships. Sayers' younger brother, Ron, later played running back for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League. Roger, his older brother, was a decorated college track and field athlete.[1] Gale Sayers graduated from Omaha Central High School where he starred in football and track and field. A fine all-around track athlete, he set a state long jump record of 24 ft 10​12 (7.58m) in as a senior in 1961.[2]

College career

Sayers was recruited by several major Midwestern colleges before deciding to play college football at the University of Kansas. While being interviewed during a broadcast of a Chicago Cubs game on September 8, 2010, Sayers said he had originally intended to go to the University of Iowa. Sayers said that he decided against going to Iowa after the Iowa head coach, Jerry Burns, did not have time to meet Sayers during his one campus visit.[3] During his Jayhawks career, he rushed for 2,675 yards and gained a Big Eight Conference-record 4,020 all-purpose yards.[4] He was three times recognized as a first-team All–Big Eight selection and was a consensus pick for the College Football All-America Team in both 1963 and 1964.[5]

As a sophomore in 1962, his first year on the varsity team, Sayers led the Big Eight Conference and was third in the nation with 1,125 rushing yards. His 7.1 yards-per-carry average was the highest of any player in the NCAA that season. Against Oklahoma State, he carried 21 times for a conference single-game-record 283 yards to lead Kansas to a 36–17 comeback victory.[6][7] In 1963, Sayers set an NCAA Division I FBS record with a 99-yard run against Nebraska.[8] He finished the year with 917 rushing yards, again leading all rushers in the Big Eight. He earned first-team All-America recognition from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA),[9] the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA),[10] the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA),[11] The Sporting News,[12] and United Press International (UPI),[13] among others. In 1964, his senior year, he led the Jayhawks to a 15–14 upset victory over Oklahoma with a 93-yard return of the game's opening kickoff for a touchdown.[14] He finished the year with 633 rushing yards, third most among Big Eight rushers, and also caught 17 passes for 178 yards, returned 15 punts for 138 yards, and returned seven kickoffs for 193 yards.[15] He earned first-team All-America honors from each of the same selectors as in the previous year, in addition to the Associated Press (AP),[16] among others.

Professional career

1965: Rookie season

Sayers was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round, fourth overall, in the 1965 NFL Draft, and was also picked fifth overall by the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League in the AFL draft. He decided that all things being equal, he would rather play in Chicago, and so after consulting his wife he chose to sign with George Halas's Bears.[4] In his rookie year, he scored an NFL-record 22 touchdowns: 14 rushing, six receiving, and one each on punt and kickoff returns. He gained 2,272 all-purpose yards, a record for an NFL rookie, with 1,371 of them coming from scrimmage. Sayers averaged 5.2 yards per rush and 17.5 yards per reception. His return averages were 14.9 yards per punt return and a league-high 31.4 yards per kickoff return.[17]

Against the Minnesota Vikings on October 17, Sayers carried 13 times for 64 yards and a touchdown; caught four passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns; and had a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in the 45–37 Bears victory.[18][19] He was the last NFL player to score a rushing, receiving, and kickoff return touchdown in the same game until Tyreek Hill accomplished the feat over fifty years later, in 2016.[20] Bears coach Halas lauded Sayers after the game, saying, "I don't ever remember seeing a rookie back who was as good," and deemed his talents equal to former Bears greats Red Grange and George McAfee. "And remember," said Halas, "we used to call George 'One-Play McAfee'."[21] On December 12, Sayers tied Ernie Nevers' and Dub Jones' record for touchdowns in a single game, scoring six in a 61–20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers that was played in muddy conditions at the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field.[22][23] He accounted for 326 yards in the game: 113 rushing, 89 receiving, and 134 on punt returns.[24] Sayers was the consensus choice for NFL Rookie of the Year honors from the AP,[25] UPI,[26] and NEA.[27]

Just give me 18 inches of daylight. That's all I need.[28]

1966: First rushing title

In his second season, Sayers led the league in rushing with 1,231 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry with eight touchdowns and becoming the first halfback to win the rushing title since 1949.[29] He also led the Bears in receiving with 34 catches, 447 yards, and two more touchdowns.[30] He surpassed his rookie season's kick return numbers, averaging 31.2 yards per return with two touchdowns. He also supplanted his all-purpose yards total from the previous season, gaining 2,440 to set the NFL record. The first of his kickoff return touchdowns that season came against the Los Angeles Rams, as he followed a wedge of blockers en route to a 93-yard score.[31] Against the Minnesota Vikings in the Bears' final game of the season, and the first of Sayers' pro career with his parents in attendance, he carried 17 times for a franchise-record 197 yards after returning the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.[32] Sayers was named to All-Pro first teams by the AP, UPI, the NEA, The Sporting News, and the Pro Football Writers Association, among others.[17] Starring in his second straight Pro Bowl, Sayers carried 11 times for 110 yards and was named the back of the game.[33] The Bears finished the season with a 5–7–2 record, and the Chicago Tribune tabbed Sayers as "the one bright spot in Chicago's pro football year."[34]

Gale Sayers
Sayers signing autographs in 2005

1967: Shared workload

In Halas's final season as an NFL coach, Sayers again starred. Sharing more of the rushing duties with other backs, such as Brian Piccolo, Sayers gained 880 yards with a 4.7-yard average per carry. His receptions were down as well. He had three kickoff returns for touchdowns on 16 returns, averaging 37.7 yards per return. Only rarely returning punts—he returned three all season—Sayers still managed to return one for a score against the San Francisco 49ers, a game in which he also returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and scored a rushing touchdown on a rain-soaked field in San Francisco's Kezar Stadium. "It was a bad field, but it didn't stop some people," said 49ers coach Jack Christiansen of Sayers' performance.[35] Christiansen said that after Sayers' kickoff return, he ordered that all punts go out of bounds. But Sayers received the punt and ran 58 yards through the middle of the field for the score. In a November game against the Detroit Lions, a cutback by Sayers caused future hall of fame cornerback Lem Barney to fall over, after which Sayers sprinted for a 63-yard gain.[36] Later in the game he returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.[37] After the season, Sayers was invited to his third straight Pro Bowl, in which he returned a kickoff 75 yards and scored a three-yard rushing touchdown and again earned player of the game honors.[38] Chicago finished in second place in the newly organized Central Division with a 7–6–1 record.

1968–1969: Right knee injury and comeback season

Sayers had the most productive rushing yardage game of his career on November 3, 1968, against the Green Bay Packers, during which he carried 24 times for 205 yards.[39] His season ended prematurely the following week against the 49ers when he tore several ligaments in his right knee including his anterior cruciate ligament, his medial collateral ligament and his meniscus cartilage. Garry Lyle, the teammate nearest Sayers at the time, said, "I saw his eyes sort of glass over. I heard him holler. I knew he was hurt."[40] Sayers had again been leading the league in rushing yards through the first nine games, and finished the year with 856 yards. After surgery, Sayers went through a physical rehabilitation program with the help of Piccolo, who had replaced him in the starting lineup.[41] Despite missing the Bears' final five games, he earned first-team All-Pro recognition from several media outlets, including the AP,[42] and UPI,[43] and NEA.[44]

In the 1969 season, after a slow start and despite diminished speed and acceleration, Sayers led the league in rushing once again with 1,032 yards. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry and was the only player to gain over 1,000 rushing yards that year. He moved into second place on the Bears' all-time rushing yards list, passing Bronko Nagurski. Sayers was recognized as the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year by United Press International.[45] The Bears, long past the Halas glory years, finished in last place with a franchise-worst 1–13 record.[46] In his fourth and final Pro Bowl appearance, Sayers was the West's leading rusher and its leading receiver. For the third time in as many Pro Bowl performances, he was named the back of the game.[47]

1970–1971: Left knee injury and retirement

In the 1970 preseason, Sayers suffered a second knee injury, this time bone bruises to his left knee. Attempting to play through the injury in the opening game against the Giants, his production was severely limited.[48] He sat out the next two games and returned in Week 4 against the Vikings, but he was still visibly hampered, most evident when he was unable to chase down lumbering Vikings defensive lineman Alan Page during a 65-yard fumble return.[49] Sayers carried only six times for nine yards before further injuring his knee. He underwent surgery the following week and was deemed out for the remainder of the season.[50] He had carried 23 times for 52 yards to that point. During his off time, Sayers took classes to become a stockbroker and became the first black stockbroker in his company's history.[51] He also entered a Paine Webber program for 45 nationwide stockbroker trainees and placed second highest in sales.[52]

After another knee operation and rehabilitation period, Sayers attempted a comeback for the 1971 season. He was kept out of the first three games after carrying the ball only twice in the preseason, as Bears head coach Jim Dooley planned to slowly work him back into the rotation.[53] His first game back was against the New Orleans Saints on October 10, in which he carried eight times for 30 yards. After the game, he told reporters he was satisfied with his performance and that his knee felt fine.[54] The following week, against the 49ers, he carried five times before injuring his ankle in the first quarter,[55] an injury that ultimately caused him to miss the remainder of the season.[56] He was encouraged to retire but decided to give football one last try. Sayers' final game was in the 1972 preseason in which he fumbled twice in three carries; he retired from professional football days later.[57]

Playing style

Sayers' ability as a runner in the open field was considered unmatched, both during his playing career and since his retirement.[52][58] He possessed raw speed—he completed a 100-yard dash in 9.7 seconds[52]— and was also highly elusive and had terrific vision, a combination which made him very difficult to tackle.[59] Actor Billy Dee Williams, who portrayed Sayers in the 1971 film Brian's Song, likened his running to "ballet" and "poetry".[60] Mike Ditka, a teammate of Sayers' for two seasons, called him "the greatest player I've ever seen. That's right—the greatest."[52] 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.[36]

On his tendency to escape from tight situations, Sayers once proclaimed, "Just give me 18 inches of daylight. That's all I need."[28] 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 hallmark 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.[61]

Despite the production from Sayers, the Bears as a whole struggled to find success; in games that Sayers played, the team compiled a record of 29 wins, 36 losses, and 3 ties, and failed to reach the postseason. Because of this, Sayers' main focus each postseason was on the Pro Bowl, where he excelled.[62][63][64] Showcasing his breakaway talents, throughout his Pro Bowl career he achieved runs of 74, 52, 51, 48, and 42 yards.[64] In the Pro Bowl following his rookie season, he had kickoff returns of 51 and 48 yards, despite limited opportunities due to the East's attempts to punt and kick away from him.[65] In the next season's game, his 10 yards-per-carry average set a Pro Bowl record.[64] He was named the "back of the game", an honor he received again in 1968 and 1969, joining Johnny Unitas as the only players to win three Pro Bowl MVP awards. "The Pro Bowl is the time to prove how good you are, playing against the best of your peers," recalled Sayers. "I took it as a challenge. I came into the game in shape, came to play."[62]

Brian Piccolo

In 1967, Sayers and Bears teammate Brian Piccolo became the first interracial roommates in the NFL.[66] Sayers' ensuing friendship with Piccolo and Piccolo's struggle with cancer (embryonal cell carcinoma, which was diagnosed after it metastasized to a large tumor in his chest cavity), became the subject of the made-for-TV movie Brian's Song. The movie, in which Sayers was portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the 1971 original and by Mekhi Phifer in the 2001 remake, was adapted from Sayers' account of this story in his 1970 autobiography, I Am Third.[67] A notable aspect of Sayers' friendship with Piccolo, a white man, and the first film's depiction of their friendship, was its effect on race relations. The first film was made in the wake of racial riots, escalating racial tensions fueled by Martin Luther King's assassination, and charges of discrimination across the nation. Sayers and Piccolo were devoted friends and deeply respectful of and affectionate with each other. Piccolo helped Sayers through rehabilitation after injury, and Sayers was by Piccolo's side throughout his illness until his death in June 1970.[68]

Later life

Gayle Sayers at Bagram AB DA-SD-07-10576.JPEG
Sayers speaking to troops in Afghanistan in 2005

Sports administration and business career

Sayers worked in the athletic department at his alma mater, the University of Kansas, for three and half years, before he was named the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1976.[69] He resigned from his position at Southern Illinois in 1981.[70]

In 1984, Sayers founded Crest Computer Supply Company in the Chicago area. Under Sayers' leadership, this company experienced consistent growth and was renamed Sayers 40, Inc. Currently, he is chairman of Sayers 40, Inc., a technology consulting and implementation firm serving Fortune 1000 companies nationally with offices in Vernon Hills, Illinois, Canton, Massachusetts, Clearwater, Florida, and Atlanta. Sayers and his wife Ardythe are also active philanthropists in Chicago. They support the Cradle Foundation—an adoption organization in Evanston, Illinois, and they founded the Gale Sayers Center in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. The Gale Sayers Center is an after-school program for children ages 8–12 from Chicago's west side and focuses on leadership development, tutoring, and mentoring.[36] In 2009, Sayers joined the University of Kansas Athletic Department staff as Director of Fundraising for Special Projects.[71]

Concussion lawsuits

In September 2013, Sayers reportedly sued the NFL, claiming the league negligently handled his repeated head injuries during his career. The lawsuit claimed Sayers suffered headaches and short-term memory loss since retirement. It stated he was sometimes sent back into games after suffering concussions, and that the league did not do enough to protect him.[72] The case was withdrawn after Sayers claimed it was filed without his permission, but he filed a new lawsuit in January 2014 along with six other former players.[73]


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."[74] While he remains physically healthy, the disease has had an adverse effect on his mental health and memory in particular, making simple tasks such as signing his own name difficult.[75]

Legacy and honors


Sayers' record of 22 touchdowns in a season was broken by O. J. Simpson in 1975, who scored 23;[76] his 22 touchdowns remains a rookie record as of 2017.[77]:545 Sayers remains the most recent player to score at least six touchdowns in a game. His career kickoff return average of 30.56 yards is an NFL record for players with at least 75 attempts,[77]:560[78] and he is one of several players to have scored two return touchdowns in a game.[77]:561 He is tied with four other players for the second most career kickoff return touchdowns, with six.[77]:560 Sayers' rookie record of 2,272 all-purpose yards was broken in 1988 by Tim Brown, who gained 2,317 yards through 16 games, which was two more games than Sayers set the record in.[79] His single-season all-purpose yards record of 2,440 set in 1966 was broken in 1974 by Mack Herron, who surpassed it by four yards.[80]

As of 2019's NFL off-season, Gale Sayers held at least 20 Bears franchise records, including:

  • Most Rush Yds/Att (career): 5.0
  • Most Rush Yds/Att (game): 11.59 (1966-12-18 MIN)
  • Most Rushing TDs (season): 14 (1965; tied with Walter Payton twice)
  • Most Rushing TDs (rookie season): 14 (1965)
  • Most Total TDs (season): 22 (1965)
  • Most Total TDs (game): 6 (1965-12-12 SFO)
  • Most Total TDs (rookie season): 22 (1965)
  • Most Total TDs (game, as a rookie): 6 (1965-12-12 SFO)
  • Most All Purpose Yds (season): 2,440 (1966)
  • Most All Purpose Yds (game): 339 (1966-12-18 MIN)
  • Most All Purpose Yds (rookie season): 2,272 (1965)
  • Most All Purpose Yds (game, as a rookie): 336 (1965-12-12 SFO)
  • Most Yds/KR (career): 30.56 (also NFL record)
  • Most Yds/KR (season): 37.69 (1967)
  • Most Kick Ret TDs (career): 6
  • Most Games with 1+ TD scored (season): 12 (1965)
  • Most Games with 1+ TD scored (rookie season): 12
  • Most Games with 2+ TD scored (rookie season): 4
  • Most Games with 3+ TD scored (season): 2 (1965; tied with Walter Payton twice, Neal Anderson, and Matt Forte)
  • Most Games with 3+ TD scored (rookie season): 2

Post-career recognition

Sayers was elected to the Lincoln Journal's Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 1973, the first black athlete to be so honored.[81] He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1977. His number 48 jersey is one of three retired by the Kansas Jayhawks football team.[82]

Later in 1977, Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is still the youngest inductee in its history.[52] On October 31, 1994, at halftime of a Monday night game, the Bears retired his number 40 at Soldier Field, along with number 51, which had been worn by teammate, linebacker Dick Butkus.[83] The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee named Sayers to its NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, which comprised the best players of the 1960s at each position.[84] In 1994, Sayers was selected for the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team as both a halfback and a kickoff returner; he was the only player selected for multiple positions.[85] In 1999, despite the brevity of his career, he was ranked 22nd on The Sporting News's list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.[86]


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  62. ^ a b Winderman, Ira (January 23, 1985). "Call To Glory Former Bear Gale Sayers Not Only Showed Up For The Pro Bowl—He Put On A Dazzling Show". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  63. ^ Myers, Bob (January 18, 1970). "Gale Sayers Gets Top Pro Billing". News-Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved February 28, 2017 – via No one will deny, however, that Sayers is something special in the Pro Bowl.
  64. ^ a b c Larson, Al (January 17, 1970). "Gale Sayers Hopes to Keep Pro Bowl Award in 'Family". Independent Press-Telegram. p. 51. Retrieved February 28, 2017 – via
  65. ^ Larson, Al (January 17, 1966). "West Plays Give-Away, Takes it on Chin". Independent. Long Beach, California. p. 17. Retrieved February 28, 2017 – via
  66. ^ Mitchell, Fred (August 1, 2013). "Bears confident race not an issue on team". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
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  68. ^ Damer, Roy (June 17, 1970). "Bears Mourn for a Friend". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
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  70. ^ "Sayers' resignation as AD no surprise". The Galveston Daily News. United Press International. July 14, 1981. p. 12. Retrieved March 2, 2017 – via
  71. ^ "KU brings Sayers back to his alma mater". Lawrence Journal-World. August 31, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
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  73. ^ Fenno, Nathan (January 7, 2014). "As NFL concussion settlement filed, Bears legend Gale Sayers sues". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  74. ^ "Gale Sayers Has Dementia, His Family Says". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  75. ^ Boren, Cindy (March 20, 2017). "Gale Sayers and Dwight Clark, NFL legends with bad diagnoses, 'suspect' football is to blame". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
  76. ^ "About retiring: OJ still undecided". The Delta Democrat-Times. United Press International. December 21, 1975. p. 27. Retrieved February 17, 2017 – via
  77. ^ a b c d Lee, Brendon; Gellerman, Jake, eds. (2016). 2016 Official National Football League Record & Fact Book (PDF). National Football League. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  78. ^ "NFL Career Yards per Kick Return Leaders". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  79. ^ Baker, Chris (December 17, 1990). "Suddenly, Tim Brown Is Making Third Downs His Own". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  80. ^ Eidge, Frank (December 16, 1974). "Mack Herron sets NFL yardage mark, breaking Gale Sayers' old record". The Berkshire Eagle. United Press International. p. 34. Retrieved February 17, 2017 – via
  81. ^ Parker, Virgil (December 25, 1973). "Football Fan Sayers Receives Honor: Joins Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame". Lincoln Evening Journal. p. 50. Retrieved February 15, 2017 – via
  82. ^ Chatmon, Brandon (June 3, 2015). "Numbers you don't mess with in the Big 12". Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  83. ^ Chicago Tribune 2015, p. 202.
  84. ^ "NFL's All-Decade Team of 1960s". Pro Football Hall of Fame. January 15, 2010. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  85. ^ "Very Best of the NFL". Detroit Free Press. August 24, 1994. p. 1D. Retrieved February 14, 2017 – via
  86. ^ "Sporting News Top 100 Football Players". Democrat and Chronicle. August 15, 1999. p. 3D. Retrieved February 13, 2017 – via


  • Chicago Tribune staff (2015). The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Bears: A Decade-By-Decade History. Agate Publishing. ISBN 1572847581.
  • Layden, Tim (August 23, 2010). "Part Iii: The Icon". Sports Illustrated. 113 (6). Archived from the original on August 25, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  • Sayers, Gale; Mitchell, Fred (2007). Sayers: My Life and Times. Triumph Books. ISBN 1572439955.

Further reading

  • Sayers, Gale; Silverman, Al (2001). I Am Third: The Inspiration for Brian's Song (3rd, reissue, illustrated, reprint ed.). Penguin Books. ISBN 0142000752.

External links

1962 Kansas Jayhawks football team

The 1962 Kansas Jayhawks football team represented the University of Kansas in the Big Eight Conference during the 1962 college football season. In their fifth season under head coach Jack Mitchell, the Jayhawks compiled a 6–3–1 record (4–2–1 against conference opponents), finished fourth in the Big Eight Conference, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 214 to 116. They played their home games at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.

The team's statistical leaders included Gale Sayers with 1,125 rushing yards, Lloyd Buzzi with 118 receiving yards and Rodger McFarland with 366 passing yards. McFarland and Ken Tiger were the team captains.

1963 Kansas Jayhawks football team

The 1963 Kansas Jayhawks football team represented the University of Kansas in the Big Eight Conference during the 1963 college football season. In their sixth season under head coach Jack Mitchell, the Jayhawks compiled a 5–5 record (3–4 against conference opponents), tied for fourth in the Big Eight Conference, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 207 to 122. They played their home games at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.

The team's statistical leaders included Gale Sayers with 917 rushing yards and 155 receiving yards and Steve Renko with 505 passing yards. Ken Coleman and Pete Quatrochi were the team captains.

1964 Kansas Jayhawks football team

The 1964 Kansas Jayhawks football team represented the University of Kansas in the 1964 college football season.

1965 Chicago Bears season

The 1965 Chicago Bears season was their 46th regular season completed in the National Football League. The club posted a 9–5 record, earning them a third-place finish in the NFL Western Conference. The club improved over the dismal 5–9 record of the previous season.

They started the season 0–3, but thanks to rookies Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus, the team won 9 of the last 11 games. Sayers had a magnificent rookie season, and in one game against the San Francisco 49ers at Chicago's Wrigley Field on December 12, he scored six touchdowns in a 61–20 Bears win, the first time the Bears scored 61 points in a regular season game. Sayers would set an NFL rookie record with 22 touchdowns in one season. The six-touchdown performance tied an NFL record and set a new Bears record.The 1965 Bears draft class was named No. 8 on NFL Top 10 draft classes.

1965 Kansas City Chiefs season

The 1965 Kansas City Chiefs season was the 6th season for the Kansas City Chiefs as a professional AFL franchise; they finished with a 7–5–2 record and missed the AFL playoffs.

For the 1965 season, the Chiefs were caught in the middle of the AFL and NFL's bidding wars for college talent. Kansas City made running back Gale Sayers from the University of Kansas their first-round draft pick, but Sayers eventually signed with the Chicago Bears, who had also drafted him with their first pick in the NFL's draft.The club suffered a devastating blow late in the 1965 season when running back Mack Lee Hill suffered torn ligaments in his right knee in the next-to-last regular season game of the year at Buffalo on December 12. Following what was expected to be a routine surgery on December 14 at Menorah Hospital in Kansas City, Hill died from what was termed "a sudden and massive embolism." Hunt called Hill's death "the worst shock possible." Just days after Hill's unexpected death, the mourning Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos on December 19 to finish the year with a 7–5–2 record.

1966 Pro Bowl

The 1966 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's sixteenth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1965 season. The game was played on January 16, 1966, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles in front of a crowd of 60,124.The coach of the Eastern Conference, Blanton Collier of the Cleveland Browns, used the domination of the West that year as a rallying cry for the Eastern team as they prepared to take the field against the Western Conference stars coached by Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. During the 1965 season, the Western Conference had dominated the Eastern Conference — Western teams had won the league championship as well as 13 of the 14 regular season inter-conference games. This apparent domination extended to the college ranks as well with the West team winning the East-West college all-star game and the Rose Bowl.At the same time, Lombardi felt his West squad was at an unfair disadvantage in the game due to a denial by the league of a last minute appeal to use his own team's quarterback, Bart Starr, in the game. Starr had previously been scratched due to injury, but had recovered sufficiently to play.Dale Meinert of the St. Louis Cardinals was named the "lineman of the game" while the Cleveland Browns' fullback Jim Brown was awarded "back of the game" honors for the third time in his career. Brown carried 21 times for 65 yards. One story line of the game, the anticipated showdown between Brown and rookie Gale Sayers of the Bears, never materialized when Lombardi surprisingly called only a single play for Sayers, a handoff which Sayers took for 15 yards.

1967 Pro Bowl

The 1967 Pro Bowl was the seventeenth annual National Football League (NFL) all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1966 season. The game was played on January 22, 1967, in a heavy rainstorm at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California before a sparse crowd of 15,062. This was the second-lowest attendance in the history of the Pro Bowl next to the inaugural game in 1939. The final score was East 20, West 10. For the second year in a row, the East dominated the West on the strength of turnovers. They recovered two fumbles and intercepted four passes.The game proved that the NFL had a successor to the great Jim Brown, who had retired after the 1965 season, with the presence of the Chicago Bears' Gale Sayers. Sayers was named back of the game while Floyd Peters of the Philadelphia Eagles was selected as lineman of the game. The coaches were Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys for the East and George Allen of the Los Angeles Rams for the West.

1968 Chicago Bears season

The 1968 Chicago Bears season was their 49th regular season completed in the National Football League. Under first-year head coach Jim Dooley, the club posted a 7–7 record, earning them another second-place finish in the Central Division within the NFL's Western Conference behind the Minnesota Vikings.

1968 Pro Bowl

The 1968 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's eighteenth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1967 season. The game was played on January 21, 1968, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The final score was West 38, East 20. Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears was named the back of the game for the second year in a row and Dave Robinson of the Green Bay Packers received the lineman of the game honors.

Attendance at the game was 53,289. The game had controversy because East coach Otto Graham of the Washington Redskins benched quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the fourth quarter. Some players questioned the benching of a player of Tarkenton’s stature in a charity game. The coach of the West squad was Don Shula of the Baltimore Colts, who won his second Pro Bowl in four years.

1969 Chicago Bears season

The 1969 Chicago Bears season was their 50th regular season completed in the National Football League. The club posted a 1–13 record, the worst in franchise history. This occurred despite the exploits of Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. Sayers had torn the ligaments in his right knee during the 1968 season. After surgery, Sayers went through a physical rehabilitation program with the help of teammate Brian Piccolo. In 1969 Sayers led the league in rushing once again with 1,032 yards, but he lacked the speed he once had and averaged only 4.4 yards per carry. An already poor season was made even worse when running back Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer in November. He would succumb to the disease in June of the following year.

1970 Pro Bowl

The 1970 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's twentieth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1969 season. The game was played on Sunday, January 18, 1970, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The final score was West 16, East 13. Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears was named the game's offensive Most Valuable Player (MVP) after rushing for 75 yards on nine carries. George Andrie of the Dallas Cowboys was selected as the defensive MVP.Attendance at the game was 57,786. Norm Van Brocklin of the Atlanta Falcons coached the West squad while the East was led by the New Orleans Saints' Tom Fears. This was the last Pro Bowl to feature the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format. After the AFL–NFL merger was completed, future Pro Bowls would pit the AFC against the NFC.

Brian's Song

Brian's Song is a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week that recounts the details of the life of Brian Piccolo (played by James Caan), a Chicago Bears football player stricken with terminal cancer after turning pro in 1965, told through his friendship with Bears teammate Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams). Piccolo's and Sayers's sharply differing temperaments and racial backgrounds made them unlikely to become as close friends as they did, including becoming the first interracial roommates in the history of the National Football League, and the film chronicles the evolution of their friendship, ending with Piccolo's death in 1970. The production was such a success on ABC that it was later shown in theaters by Columbia Pictures with a major premiere in Chicago; however, it was soon withdrawn due to a lack of business. Critics have called the movie one of the finest telefilms ever made. A 2005 readers poll taken by Entertainment Weekly ranked 'Brian's Song' seventh in its list of the top "guy-cry" films ever made.

The movie is based on Sayers' account of his friendship with Piccolo and coping with Piccolo's illness in Sayers' autobiography, I Am Third. The film was written by veteran screenwriter William Blinn, whose script, one Dallas television critic called, "highly restrained, steering clear of any overt sentimentality [yet conveying] the genuine affection the two men felt so deeply for each other."Although based on a true story, the film did include some fictional scenes. One example was when George Halas (played by Jack Warden) told Gale Sayers that he wanted to bench Brian Piccolo when he suspected that there may be a problem affecting his performance. He later learned of Brian's cancer. In reality, Jim Dooley was the head coach at that time, as Halas had retired from the position following the 1967 season.

Brian's Song (2001 film)

Brian's Song is the 2001 remake of the 1971 television film Brian's Song, telling the story of Brian Piccolo (Sean Maher), a white running back who meets, clashes with and befriends fellow Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers (Mekhi Phifer). The movie was adapted from Sayers' own words in his autobiography, I am Third. The television movie, produced by Columbia TriStar Television, was first broadcast in the US on The Wonderful World of Disney on ABC.

In the movie, Piccolo is a brash rookie with the Bears. Initially thinking Sayers is arrogant – when he is only quiet and a slight bit anti-social – they rub each other the wrong way from the moment they meet. The movie, taking place from 1965 to 1970, as the Civil Rights Movement grows, places great emphasis on integration, bringing up the conflict of when Brian and Gale room together for their first football season.

Brian Piccolo

Louis Brian Piccolo (October 31, 1943 – June 16, 1970) was a professional American football player, a running back for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) for four years. He died at age 26 from embryonal cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of germ cell testicular cancer, first diagnosed after it had spread to his chest cavity.

Piccolo was the subject of the 1971 TV movie Brian's Song, with a remake (of the same title) TV movie filmed in 2001. He was portrayed in the original film by James Caan and by Sean Maher in the 2001 remake.

Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Award

The Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Award has been awarded by the National Football League Players Association continuously since 1967. The most recent winner, for the 2017 season, is Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles. The award honors work in the community as the NFL player who best served his team, community and country in the spirit of Byron "Whizzer" White, who was a Supreme Court justice, professional American football player, naval officer, and humanitarian. Past winners have included Drew Brees, Warrick Dunn, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr, Archie Manning, Peyton Manning, Troy Vincent, and Ken Houston. Prior to his ascension to the Supreme Court, White had been All-Pro three times (1938, 1940, 1941) and the NFL rushing champion twice (1938 and 1940).

The 2001 recipient, Michael McCrary, was the child in the Supreme Court case Runyon v. McCrary (1976) in which Justice White had participated nearly a quarter of a century before McCrary's award. White had dissented from the position taken by the lawyers for McCrary.

Howard Kennedy School

Howard Kennedy Elementary School is located at 2906 North 30th Street in North Omaha, Nebraska, United States. Almost since its inception Kennedy was regarded as one of Omaha's "black schools," almost exclusively African American. Football great Gale Sayers attended the school.

Kellom Elementary School

Kellom Elementary School, formerly called the Paul Street School, is a public school located at 1311 North 24th Street in the Near North Side neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska, United States. Alumni of Kellom include Fred Astaire, Roger and Gale Sayers, Bob Gibson Dr. Catherine Pope, and Brenda Council. Still maintaining a largely African American student body population, the school was regarded as a "black school" in pre-Civil Rights Movement-era Omaha.

List of Chicago Bears team records

The Chicago Bears are a National Football League (NFL) franchise based in Chicago. This article lists all the individual and team statistical records complied since the franchise's birth in 1920.

National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team

The National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team was chosen by a selection committee of media and league personnel in 1994 to honor the greatest players of the first 75 years of the National Football League (NFL). Five players on the list were on NFL rosters at the time of the selections: Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Rod Woodson, Reggie White, and Ronnie Lott. Gale Sayers was named to the team as both a halfback and kickoff returner. Every player is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, except for Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.

Gale Sayers—awards and honors

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