Former Chicago Bears star Gale Sayers, who is considered one of the biggest backs in the history of the National Football Championship despite his career being cut short by a knee injury, has died at the age of 77 after dementia.
Known as “Kansas Comet”, Sayers was voted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, despite playing just seven seasons, all with the Bears. At 34, he was the youngest player ever.
“Everyone who loves the game of football mourns the loss of one of the greatest players to ever play the game with the failure of Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers,” Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement. . “He was the essence of a team player – quiet, simple and always ready to congratulate a teammate on a block. Gale was a great man who went through a lot of adversity during his career and life in the NFL.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, “The NFL family lost a true friend today with the death of Gale Sayers. Gale was one of the best men in NFL history and one of the game’s most exciting players.
“Gale was an electric and vague runner who excited fans every time he touched the ball. He won his place as Hall-Famer in the first ballot. We will also forever remember Gale for his inspiration and kindness. His quiet demeanor Gale denied his determination, competitiveness and compassion. “
Sayers has been the All-Pro five times averaging 5 yards per transfer for his career and twice led the league in momentum, including 1969 (1,032 yards) after breaking the ACL and MCL on his right knee late in the season. last season.
A major injury to his left knee in 1970 was too much to overcome and he retired in 1971.
His career numbers of 4,956 yards and 39 touchdowns on the ground came mainly in five seasons, as he played sparingly in 1970 and ’71.
As a returner, Sayers was also disastrous, scoring six touchdowns and averaging more than 30 yards per kickoff return, with two touchdowns and 14.5 yards per punt performance.
Legendary Bears coach George Halas, as he introduced the Sayers to his induction at Hall, said: “If you want to see perfection as a run, you better watch a Gale Sayers movie. It was poetry in motion. The feeling would not to see again. “
Sayers was born in Wichita, Kansas and was an American in Kansas. It was the Bears’ first round in 1965 and they once scored six touchdowns in one game.
For his bounce-back season in 1969, he was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award, which he immediately passed on to a close friend and teammate of Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer. Their relationship was discussed in detail in Sayers’ autobiography “I Am Third” and the TV movie “Brian’s Song”.
Sayers took his name on the NFL’s 75th anniversary in 1994 in halfback and kickback, the only player to be named in two positions.
The Sayers family discussed his experience with dementia earlier this year.
Roger Sayers, his brother, told the Kansas City Star in a telephone interview that “it’s hard to build memories all your life, and the next thing you know, you don’t remember anything.”