Gale Sayers: Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back, dies aged 77

Gale Sayers: Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back, dies aged 77

Nicknamed "The Kansas Comet", Sayers was the fourth overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft and starred out of the gate, scoring 22 total touchdowns as a rookie, before ultimately rushing for 4,956 yards and 56 touchdowns in his career. Sayers was dominant from the get-go, rushing for a career-high 14 touchdowns in his rookie season. A four-time Pro Bowler, two-time National Football League leader in rushing yards, and the like, the former Bears running back might most be remembered for his (roughly) 20 franchise records, leading the team deep in the postseason numerous times and his general nice demeanor by those who knew him.

The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Gale.

Piccolo, who had been Sayers' roommate, died less than a month later at age 26.

A cause of death for Sayers was not listed in the Hall of Fame's statement, though he had been suffering from dementia for several years.

"Gale was an electrifying and elusive runner who thrilled fans every time he touched the ball". An injury to his left knee in 1970 was too much for him to overcome, and he retired in 1971.

Sayers also gained recognition off the football field when he was portrayed by Billly Dee Williams in the movie "Brian's Song" that told of Sayers' friendship with Bears teammate Brian Piccolo. Sayers was the only player to make the NFL's 75th anniversary team at two different positions, running back and kick returner.

Gale Sayers

"We will also forever remember Gale for his inspiration and kindness", Goodell said. "His effective playing time of 68 games is also the shortest of any Hall of Famer". "Gale's quiet unassuming demeanour belied his determination, competitiveness and compassion".

"Sharing a room with Brian Piccolo - the first interracial roommates in the NFL - set an example for racial equality in the League and across the country".

In both his second and third seasons at KU (freshmen couldn't play at the time), Sayers was a consensus All-American. In 1968, Piccolo helped Sayers through a tough rehab process while he recovered from a torn ligament in his right knee. "And tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him".

In a statement released a few hours after Sayers' passing was announced, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long revealed that a statue of Sayers would be unveiled at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium during halftime of KU's home game against Oklahoma State on October 3. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

"Gale was a clear-cut - and first-ballot - Hall of Famer for his accomplishments on the field and for the man of character he was in life", Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said.

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