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.
I had to stop in to pay my respects to the great Gale Sayers. Very sorry to hear of his passing. Evidently he was suffering from dementia, something his family believes was related to his football career. Given the brutality of the sport in those years, that’s not surprising. Sad that he passed at such a relatively young age.
Gale was a groundbreaking back, not the first of his kind but certainly among the very best. The Niners had a couple of their own shifty backs in Joe Perry and Hugh McElhenny, both brilliant runners in their own right.
I never got to see him play either, but have watched tons of highlight reels over the years and enjoyed every second of all of them. It’s cool that the 49ers will forever be linked to him due to that one phenomenal game. If my math is correct, he had 336 total yards in that game, which is utterly mind-blowing. What a phenomenal talent, with one of the great nicknames in NFL history. Hard to believe the 49ers didn’t see enough in him to make him their pick. Butkus too for that matter.
More than all that he was a nice man, a decent human being.
RIP, Kansas Comet.
Well said, John. Saw a few games at Kezar as a kid but never saw the Bears. there’s been talk around that Willard and Brodie should be enshrined as their numbers are comparable to many others in the hall. Had Brodie ever gotten past Dallas and into the Super Bowl, he likely would have made it into the HOF.
Sayers was a great player and an even better man.
Gonna have to cue up Brian’s Song.
Yes, Gale Sayers was a great man after the game, and his book is excellent. One of my cousins gave me I Am Third, his autobiography, when I was a kid. He worked tirelessly in the poor neighborhoods of Chicago to give kids a chance to get ahead and promoted many other charitable organizations. He was one of the earliest players to go after the NFL for not doing enough to protect its players by suing the league for his short–term memory loss due to the numerous concussions. This eventually led to his dementia he had been suffering a while.
Yep I read that as a kid too. My dad gave it to me. I still have it here somewhere…
Heh heh. I’ve been collecting books for the past 50 years and dragging them around with me through all the moves.
Same here. My house looks like a damned library. Easily a couple thousand. Science, Sci-Fi, and history, mostly.
I’ll have to see about picking up that book.
Gale Sayers was one of my favorites of all-time RIP. It is so sad to watch great and wonderful people get eaten alive by Alzheimer’s and dementia. It got my dad and now my sister is having problems. I feel for anyone who’s battling that stuff and for the ones who have to watch and can do nothing about it.
Had the pleasure to meet him briefly in Canton, with several of my kids, when we traveled for Jerry’s Induction.
He was gracious to us as 9er fans to take a few pics as well.
An icon of the game.
That is very cool, NJ. He seemed like a very down-to-earth guy. Got to get to Canton one of these days,
I wouldn’t make the trip now unless you’re willing to do the top tier pkg.
Jerry’s induction was outstanding.
Easy access to players wandering around with the masses.
Huge venues in the open to have items autographed etc.
Made the trip for Eddie and everything was segregated.
Players were only made available to those who paid.
Night and day.
Pics on my Man Cave walls that we took with Derrick Deese, Eric Dickerson, Keena Turner and others.
Merton apologized for not stopping due to a venue commitment too.
Almost got run over by a golf cart taking Joe & Steve to the Rice after party tent too 😀
Oh man. Sorry to hear that, Winder. My father in law battled that for a year, and it was rough. He got very paranoid and dangerous. He was 81 but was strong as hell. Electrician for 50 years, and merchant marine who was a golden gloves boxer. It got to the point he thought his kids were robbers trying to steal his stuff, and he stopped recognizing his wife.
Yeah, it is a terrible disease.
Chuck, that’s a great compilation, BTW. Really enjoyed it. A couple of the cuts on that 85 yard punt return against the Niners are flat out ridiculous. Eyes in the back of his head.
NJ, that is cool. I went to the Pro Bowl in 1997 and saw a bunch of guys. The highlight being getting pretty drunk with Chris Berman of all people. Talked to Samurai Mike Singletary before he flamed out as our coach. Also got one of my best lines off to Joe Theismann. About half an hour before the game, me and my friends saw a whole bunch of guys in Niner gear hanging out around toe 40 yard line. The place was pretty empty, but Thiesmann was interviewing someone about 20′ away. Just as he was done talking I yelled out “Break a leg, Joe!!”
Chuck I’m a fish out of water here in terms of fandom.
I’m all about Bermans’ wish for a Bills/9ers SB.
Chris is a 9ers fan. No doubt.
My life is Red & Gold.
I live for fandom.
Be a fan.
Whether you wear my colors or not, be a FAN.
No respect for front running assholes.
I’ve got pics with Maiocco and Barrows both here in NJ and in Canton.
My kid’s became believers of my claims of being the original NJ 49ER Fan when Maiocco returned my text messages years ago.
We’ve met numerous times here in NJ over the years at tailgates.
I bleed Red & Gold.
One of my very best friends is a Bears fan.
He is seriously invested and depressed about the passing of Gale too.
I respect fandom.
It’s part of who we are.
Smokey the Bear says…
Rake that shit you call hair off your bald fukn head Donnie.
The best part of that Pro Bowl was Niner lineman Kevin Gogan and Chief Neil Smith getting thrown out for fighting. I think it was the only case of anyone getting thrown out of a pro bowl.
Yeah, I have a shit load of cousins who are seriously bummed. Sad day for football.
Funny thing was, Berman said, I’m not really into football. He is a gigantic baseball fan. And his team is the Giants.
Once baseball gets in your blood it’s there forever. I love football just about as much as I can love anything but there is still something magical about baseball that football doesn’t have. I’m not even sure exactly what it is.
This is pretty funny.
Jesus…Dre Greenlaw is ruled out as well due to a quad injury! Time to activate Dave Wilcox at this point..