Gale Sayers dies at 77

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Former Bears running back Gale Sayers, an all-purpose tailback who took the league by storm as a rookie in 1965, has died. He was 77.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Sayers’ passing.

On December 12, 1965, Sayers scored a single-game record six touchdowns in a game against the 49ers, with an 80-yard catch-and-run, four rushing touchdowns (including a 50-yarder), and an 85-yard punt return. He finished his rookie year with 22 touchdowns.

Sayers made it to the Hall of Fame despite playing only 68 regular-season games, due to knee injuries that shortened his career. As explained earlier this year, Sayers forever will be linked to Brian Piccolo, a teammate who died of cancer at 26. Their close friendship became the subject of Brian’s Song.

We extend our condolences to Gale Sayers’ family, friends, teammates, and other colleagues.

78 responses to “Gale Sayers dies at 77

  1. Besides all the known accolades Gale was one the classiest people in Chicago Sports history. RIP Mr. Sayers, the world loves you.

  2. If you’re a newer NFL fan and you haven’t seen Gale Sayers, find a highlight reel on YouTube and loosen your jaw, because your jaw is going to drop to the floor. This guy was smooth, fast, powerful, elusive, and made it all look so easy. One of the greatest RBs ever.

  3. Probably the best returner to ever touch the ball. Unfortunate his playing career didn’t last longer.

  4. I had the great pleasure of meeting Gayle many years ago.
    He was a very modest and soft-spoken man.

    It’s a real shame his career was cut short.

  5. RIP Gale, say hi to Pappa Bear, Brian P. Walter, and all the other Bear players that you run into.
    From all Bear Fans

  6. Didn’t see him in person but those highlights man, OMG! Awestruck! Rest in Power, King! Your inspiration will truly be missed. People still trying to copy you, the original.

  7. The most dangerous player to ever step on a football field. There has never been another player like him. Sorry to hear this.

  8. Gale was the most graceful runner I have seen in my lifetime. I believe he once scored 6 TDs in one game.

  9. I was a little too young to really appreciate his early brilliance. I’ve often wondered what his career would have been like with modern surgical techniques. Back in the 60’s a torn ACL was nearly a death sentence for a running back’s career and he was never the same after that initial injury. Poetry in motion in his prime. RIP

  10. I was born in 1972, so my Dad named me Brian. Having watched “Brian’s Song” several times, which includes actual Bears footage, I would compare Sayers’s size and running style to Adrian Peterson.

  11. Sorry to hear. Grew up watching and listening to the Bears games and idolize him. Thanks for great memories Gale

  12. He’s the player that opened my eyes to pro football as a young kid. He was years ahead of his time, a true game-changer.

  13. I wish I could have seen Sayers play live. He must have given fans a bolt of excitement every time he touched the ball (Jim Brown probably did as well).

  14. He’s before my time, but I guess it speaks to his greatness that even I know how amazing he was. RIP, Mr. Sayers.

  15. For all you youngsters, lookup Brian’s Song! Excellent movie about the friendship Sayers and Brian Piccolo! RIP!

  16. They didn’t call him “The Kansas Comet” for nothing. He was one of the original SPEEDSTERS in the NFL. On the field he could fly …. now may he fly on to heaven.

  17. I know my comment is likely to be met with derision but I believe Gales Sayers was the best tailback ever to play the game. His ability to make people miss in the open field was a joy to watch.

  18. this man I saw play… on TV as a 9 year old. (yes I am old) He was majical on the feild.

    His ability to move with the ball has been close to unequaled in the game since. Few had his drive, few had his compassion, and none had his story, which was true.

    He and Brian showed the rest of the world, that 2 men of different backgrounds and skin color could be best friends…

    Gale was a one of a kind person and I will miss him not being in our world. But I know he rests with Brian on a field elsewhere back together. God rest your soul Gale

  19. The 65 game at Wrigley against the Niners is on you tube.
    Watch it before it disappears; pure Sayers magic!

  20. On behalf of all right minded Packer fans, this stinks. RIP warrior, and condolences to his family and friends. The Gale from Kansas was one of the best of all time.

  21. RIP … Gayle Sayers

    Sayers and Bo Jackson could make you hold your breath while watching them run …

  22. RIP gale sayers. your friendship with brian piccolo allowed him to die a happy man. may the higher powers up above give you eternal happiness.

  23. For those of us old enough to remember, Gale Sayers was the first player we wanted to tune in to watch every week and the first one whose movie, Brian’s Song, made us cry.

  24. I started watching football near the end of Sayers career. Even then, I knew he was special. My favorite RB’s to watch were Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, and Walter Payton. Yes, I’m a Packer fan, But Norris division UNITE!!!

  25. One of the best ever. I love watching videos of him running the ball. He could make anyone miss and was so smooth. RIP.

  26. Gale Sayers IMO was one of the top 4 running backs of all time. If you never seen him play YouTube some highlights. The man was simply incredible. he was a class act off the field as well. I will never forget the movie Brian Song. 2 grown men who respected and love each other. Color and backgrounds didn’t matter. We could learn from that today.

    Rest in Peace Gale “The Kansas Comet” Sayers
    Gone too soon.

  27. Like George C Scott is Patton ,,,Billy Dee Williams is Gale !!!!! RIP an indelible human being !!!

  28. I am way too young to have watched him play but dang, that man had some highlights! He also had the best NFL films quote of all time “Give me 18 inches of daylight. That’s all I need”. RIP Kansas Comet!

  29. I’m old enough to have seen GS play on live TV. I saw the game against the 49ers where he scored 6 touchdowns. Before his disastrous knee injury he may have been the best runner in NFL history (although Jim Brown is right up there also). I agree with all the others – if you’ve never seen his highlights be sure to catch them on YouTube. Sayers was as elusive as Barry Sanders but somehow moved smoothly while making tacklers miss him. Gotta check it out.
    Finally, a great man and class act. RIP indeed!

  30. Saw the six touchdown game on Tv as a kid. We knew it was historic watching it in real time. You eventually came to expect he would do that every week. Every time he touched the ball you knew he had a chance to go all the way. Also saw the game against the 49ers when he seriously injured his knee in the mud. He deserved to make the Hall Of Fame despite the shortened career.

  31. The Kansas Comet name was achieved while at Kansas U. Part of the powerful backfield – Sayers at tailback, Curtis McClinton at fullback, and John Hadl at QB.

    For shear elusiveness, only Barry Sanders was his equal. And he was big and strong too. Easily top five all time.

    Rest In Peace, sir. And thank you so much for the fine example you set.

  32. An incredibly gifted back who made people miss at top speed. The reason I wore number 40 from youth football through high school back in the 70’s.

  33. If they had the surgical techniques of today in the 1960s Sayers and Butkus would have even been better for a long time. RIP.

  34. Great player, classy human being, and all those ‘thumbs downs’
    Nothing better to illustrate what a nasty, classless culture we have evolved into.

  35. Whenever I think of Sayers and Namath and also Greg Cook (being a Cincinnati guy), I’m saddened by knowing that with today’s medicine, they all would have had much longer, fully productive careers. I was always glad that the HOF recognized how great Sayers was even though he really didn’t play that long. Huge loss.

  36. RIP to one of the all-time greats, whose career was far too short. Also one of the classiest guys ever to put on the uniform.

  37. RIP Gayle Sayers. He’d likely be known as the greatest RB of all time if his career wasn’t cut short.

  38. …..RIP Gayle….go kick it with Brian and let that cool guy know how far we have come in race relations.


  39. There are only two running backs in the platinum class of running backs: Jim Brown and Gayle Sayers. As a 49er fan, when he was taken off the field in Chicago that day I felt cheated. RIP Mr. Sayers and the best to your family.

  40. Give Walter and Brian a fist bump ! Great RB and human being Mr. Sayers you will be missed by many

  41. Hopefully the Pearly Gates are open at least 18 inches wide since that’s all “The Comet” needs. RIP Mr. Sayers

  42. Loved watching him on those old NFL Films videos. One of the first NFL players I saw that was electric!

  43. A great football player and promoter of himself. But, met the guy at 3 seperate fund raising events and he was an a-hole each time.

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