Legendary Chicago Bears And Hall Of Famer Gale Sayers Dead At 77

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Katie Jerkovich Entertainment Reporter
Font Size:

Legendary Chicago Bears and NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers died Wednesday after living with dementia. He was 77.

“All those who love the game of football mourn the loss of one of the greatest to ever play this game with the passing of Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers,” Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker shared in a statement with ESPN.

“He was the very essence of a team player — quiet, unassuming and always ready to compliment a teammate for a key block,” the statement added. “Gale was an extraordinary man who overcame a great deal of adversity during his NFL career and life.”  (RELATED: Legendary Comic Don Rickles Died At Age 90)

“The NFL family lost a true friend today with the passing of Gale Sayers,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shared in a statement. “Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game’s most exciting players.” (RELATED: Hollywood Reacts To Death Of Legendary Actress Doris Day)

“Gale was an electrifying and elusive runner who thrilled fans every time he touched the ball,” the statement added. “He earned his place as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We will also forever remember Gale for his inspiration and kindness. Gale’s quiet unassuming demeanor belied his determination, competitiveness and compassion.”

While Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey shared in a statement that there was so much more to Sayers than football noting that, “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,”

At age 34, Sayers was the youngest player ever inducted into the football Hall of Fame in 1977 after having played seven seasons as an all pro-football running back. At the end of his career, he had a total of 9,435 combined net yards, 4,956 rushing yards and 336 points scored, per Adam Schefter.

Shortly after news broke of his death, tributes from the sports and entertainment world started surfacing on social media.

“‘Give me 18 inches of daylight. That’s all I need,'” Gale Sayers shared, per the NFL. “One of the greatest to ever play the game. Rest in peace, Gale Sayers. (via @nflthrowback)”