Chicago Bears Hall of Fame Running Back Gayle Sayers has passed away at age 77:Part of the Sayers legacy was his friendship with Brian Piccolo(Wake Forest University)

Posted by Press Release on September 23, 2020 at 10:22 am under College, Photos, Professional, Video | 2 Comments to Read

from the Chicago Tribune, at www.chicagotribune.com/CLICK HERE to read all of this one, and to see some great Gayle Sayers photos…
(Credits to Richard Campbell and Fred Mitchell)

Gale Sayers, the dazzling Chicago Bears running back and kick returner whose injury-shortened career made him the youngest player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a years-long decline in health that included dementia. He was 77.

**********Sayers’ legacy is partly defined by his close relationship with teammate Brian Piccolo(Wake Forest University), who died at age of 26 in 1970 from a rare form of cancer. Sayers and Piccolo were believed to be the first interracial roommates for a major professional sports organization. Their story was documented in an Emmy award-winning made-for-TV movie called “Brian’s Song.”**********

The “Kansas Comet,” as Sayers was nicknamed, was one of the most agile and elusive ball carriers ever.

“If you wish to see perfection as a running back, you had best get a hold of a film of Gale Sayers,” Bears founder George Halas said in 1977 when he presented Sayers for Hall of Fame enshrinement. “He was poetry in motion. His like will never be seen again.”

Sayers’ dynamic running ability helped him earn All-Pro recognition in each of his five full seasons. It also left teammates, coaches, fans and pundits to wonder what he might have accomplished in football had knee injuries not ended his career in 1971 after only seven seasons (68 games).

In fact, Sayers’ legendary athleticism was a bittersweet topic at the Bears100 Celebration in June 2019, as former teammates tried to make sense of how the electric running back they revered could be the same frail, wheelchair-bound man who appeared on stage.

“If I wanted one (running back) for a season, I’d take Walter Payton. But if I wanted a player for one play, I’ll take Gale Sayers above every running back I’ve seen — whether it be Jim Brown or O.J. Simpson or anybody” said Johnny Morris, a teammate of Sayers’ for three seasons in the mid-’60s.

“He had a knack of being in the air and he’d swing his leg over and come down in a different direction. That’s the best way I can put it.”

Sayers rushed for 4,956 yards and scored 56 touchdowns in his career. The four-time Pro Bowler ranks fourth on the Tribune’s list of top 100 Bears players all-time and fifth on the team’s list.

Sayers’ legacy is partly defined by his close relationship with teammate Brian Piccolo, who died at age of 26 in 1970 from a rare form of cancer. Sayers and Piccolo were believed to be the first interracial roommates for a major professional sports organization. Their story was documented in an Emmy award-winning made-for-TV movie called “Brian’s Song.”

In May 1970, Sayers famously honored Piccolo when he accepted the George Halas award, which is given annually by the Pro Football Writers of America to the NFL player, coach or staff member who best overcame adversity to succeed.

Sayers was honored for his 1969 season in which he won the league’s rushing title in his comeback back from multiple torn knee ligaments. Sayers knew Piccolo was very ill; as it turned out, he died three weeks later.

“You flatter me by giving me this award,” Sayers said in his speech. “But I tell you that I accept it for Brian Piccolo. It is mine tonight. It is Brian Piccolo’s tomorrow.”


  • Gale Force said,

    Gale Sayers had Barry Sanders’ cutback ability and bounce with Olympic sprinter speed. If knee surgery procedures had been more advanced when he played for the Bears, we might have been blessed to see more of his magic than we did. Man, he was fun to watch! Sayers was like watching a video game when he was out in space.

  • 77 Hornet said,

    I believe Brian Piccolo spoke at a football banquet for Guilford/Western Guilford high school back in the day.