CHICAGO — Former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers, a member of the Pro Football Hall, has died. He was 77.
Nicknamed “The Kansas Comet” Sayers died Wednesday. He suffered from dementia.
“Football fans know well Gale’s many accomplishments on the field: a rare combination of speed and power as the game’s most electrifying runner, a dangerous kick returner, his comeback from a serious knee injury to lead the league in rushing, and becoming the youngest player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said in a statement. “People who weren’t even football fans came to know Gale through the TV movie ‘Brian’s Song,’ about his friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo. Fifty years later, the movie’s message that brotherhood and love needn’t be defined by skin color still resonates.”
Sayers played seven years for the bears, retiring in 1971 due to nagging knee injuries. He made the Pro Bowl four times and voted All-Pro five times. He played college football at Kansas.
“Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game’s most exciting players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Gale was an electrifying and elusive runner who thrilled fans every time he touched the ball. He earned his place as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”
Sayers was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 at the age of 34. Considered one the best all-purpose backs of all time, he was also known for his friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo, a running back for the Bears from 1965-1969. Piccolo was diagnosed with embryonal cell carcinoma and died in 1970. The friendship was chronicled in the film “Brian’s Song.”