“Give me 18 inches of daylight, that’s all I need.”– Gale Sayers
On Wednesday morning, former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers passed away.
Sayers was drafted fourth overall by the Chicago Bears in 1965. Another famous Bear was taken in that draft with the third overall pick, linebacker Dick Butkus. Butkus and Sayers went on to become pillars of the Bears franchise for numerous seasons, despite an injury-plagued career for Sayers.
The ‘Kansas Comet’, as he was dubbed for hailing from the University of Kansas, did everything on the football field. He could run, gracefully may I add, catch passes, and return kicks and punts — all which he was fantastic at in his seven-year career.
Sayers was a five-time All-Pro, four-time Pro-Bowler, NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1969, and Rookie of the Year in 1965. His number 40 is retired by the Bears and number 48 retired by the Jayhawks. Sayers was also a two-time NFL rushing leader and a member of the 50th, 75th, and 100th Anniversary teams for the NFL. Sayers was truly special on the field.
Off the field, something Sayers was incredibly famous for was the movie Brian’s Song. The movie chronicles Sayers’ relationship with teammate and fellow running back Brian Piccolo, who tragically passed away at age 28. At a time in the country when the Civil Rights movement was at its height, the special bond that Sayers and Piccolo shared was incredibly moving and necessary in a time of divide. Now, the country is experiencing the same tensions, and Brian’s Song could be a well-needed engine for unity in yet another time of divide.
Sayers was 77 years old when he passed away.