Sad day for football fans as Gale Sayers, HOF running back for the Chicago Bears, passed away today at the age of 77. Though his career was cut short by Kermit Alexander of the 49ers, his 5 years of dominating the league was enough to get him enshrined in 1977.
Sayers famously had his greatest day as a player at venerable old Wrigley Field back in 1965 when he scored 6 TDs on a rain-soaked and muddy as fuck field against the 49ers. He scored one receiving TD, 4 rushing TDs, and scored his final one on an 85 punt return for a 61 – 20 victory. His stats that day were: 9 rushes for 113 yards, 2 catches for 89 yards, 5 punt returns for 134 yards.
Sayers was drafted with the 4th pick of the ’65 NFL draft. The 49ers passed on Sayers and instead drafted Ken (3 yards and a cloud of dust) Willard. The 49ers also passed on Dick Butkus, drafted 3rd by the Bears. Back to back Hall of Famers is pretty impressive, yet it netted the Bears no playoff appearances. Their best shot was the 1965 campaign when they went 9-5, but finished 3rd behind the Packers and the Colts.
I never got to see him play, but his accomplishments were everywhere to be seen thanks to the early days of NFL Films and John Facenda. A true icon of the game has passed. Very sad as my cousins are all huge Bears fans, and they would go to Soldier Field all the time to watch him.