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)
9 carries, 113 rushing yards, 4 TDs.
2 catches, 89 yards, 1 TD.
5 punt returns, 134 yards, 1 TD.
With 6 total touchdowns, Gale Sayers might have had the best single game ever.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 23, 2020
“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.
Bears’ legend and Hall-of-Fame running back Gale Sayers died Wednesday, the Hall of Fame confirmed. He was 77. pic.twitter.com/hfKAptZPyx
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 23, 2020
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)”
The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Gale Sayers. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ardie, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations.#HOFForever | @ChicagoBears pic.twitter.com/sLYdu9w0s2
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) September 23, 2020
My heart is broken over the loss of my dear friend, Gale Sayers.
Portraying Gale in Brian’s Song was a true honor and one of the nightlights of my career. He was an extraordinary human being with the the kindest heart.
My sincerest condolences to his family #RIPGaleSayers pic.twitter.com/OyQRlwuznU
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) September 23, 2020
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) September 23, 2020
Gale Sayers was someone who I admired long before I arrived in Chicago. I loved his approach to the game and of course, how he played it. He inspired me to be great in a city that loves sports like no other. RIP to one of the @NFL’s best ever. #KansasComet @ChicagoBears pic.twitter.com/Rc3zytUjQj
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) September 23, 2020
I asked Gale Sayers for the best advise he ever received. From his HS football coach: “when it’s you vs 1 person you should win 100% of the time, when it’s you vs 2 people you win 75% of the time. Set your expectations higher than others imagine, then exceed them.” RIP #BearDown pic.twitter.com/WrDKLzfEQH
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) September 23, 2020
Saddened to hear about the passing of Gale Sayers at the age of 77 after battling dementia. One of the greatest @NFL running backs of all time. A Hall of Famer. Sayers was portrayed incredibly by Billy Dee Williams in the classic film “Brian’s Song”. RIP Kansas Comet.
— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) September 23, 2020