Gale Sayers Death at 77 isn’t an End for Chicago Bears Legend

4 min readSep 23, 2020


Chicago Bears running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Gale Sayers’ death occurred at the age of 77 after recently battling a tragic disease, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. R.I.P.

Gale Sayers’ death occurred at the age of 77 after recently battling a tragic disease
The New York Times

Although he couldn’t play more than seven seasons because of knee problems, became one of the NFL’s marquee players of the 1960s, averaging 5 yards a carry for his career, twice leading the league in rushing, and ultimately becoming the youngest Hall of Fame inductee in 1977 when he was just 34.

‘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 tweeted and reacted to Gale Sayers’ death.

In a statement, he also called Sayers “the very essence of a team player — quiet, unassuming and always ready to compliment a teammate for a key block. Gale was an extraordinary man who overcame a great deal of adversity during his NFL career and life.”

What was the Gale Sayers’ death cause?

Sayers, known as the “Kansas Comet”, born in Wichita, Kansas on May 30, 1943, was suffering from severe dementia and his death of cause was the tragic disease.

Relatives of Sayers had also confirmed that he was diagnosed with dementia. In March 2017, his wife, Ardythe, announced she partly blamed his football career.

‘Like the doctor at the Mayo Clinic said, “Yes, a part of this has to be on football,” Ardythe Sayers explained from their home Indiana home in 2017. ‘It wasn’t so much getting hit in the head. It’s just the shaking of the brain when they took him down with the force they play the game in.’

Gale Sayers was struggling with memory loss, confusion, and other symptoms that make it difficult to communicate clearly some days. Gale Sayers drew one more thunderous ovation from the Chicago crowd.

Gale Sayers’ biography

Gale Sayers was born in Wichita, Kansas, and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, Gale Eugene. He was the son of Roger Winfield Sayers and Bernice Ross.

Gale Eugene Sayers was both a halfback and a return specialist in the National Football League. In a relatively brief but very bright NFL career, Sayers played seven seasons in the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1971, though injuries effectively limited him to four full seasons of play, and in the last two seasons appeared in just two games each before retiring throughout the 1971 season.

He was known for his elusiveness and quickness and was considered by his rivals as one of the most difficult players to tackle.

Gale Sayers and theater

He was not just a Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, but was also immortalized on screen, where he was portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the 1971 made-for-TV movie ‘Brian’s Song.’

The film is about a story of the impossible friendship between the famously quiet Sayers and his teammate Brian Piccolo, a boisterous fullback performed by James Caan. Piccolo was diagnosed with terminal cancer after turning pro in 1965, which was also Sayers’s rookie season, and ultimately passed away in 1970.

The TV movie was so famous that it was ultimately was shown in theaters.

Story of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo’s friendship

The friendship between Sayers and started in 1967 when they became unlikely roommates. Sayers was black and already a star; Piccolo was white and had grown from the practice squad. They became roommates when race relations had many tenses.

Although first, they were just competing for playing time and carries, when the club abandoned its policy of separating players by coloring hotel room assignments, they started forming a friendship.

A year after they met each other, Piccolo helped Ayers in a challenging process while recovering from a torn ligament in his right knee. After Sayers returned the next season to become an All-Pro, he made sure his friend shared in the credit.

They became even closer when Piccolo pulled himself out of a game early in the 1969 season because of breathing difficulties and was battling with cancer. Their friendship at that time was described first by Sayers in his autobiography, ‘I Am Third,’ and then later in ‘Brian’s Song.’

Sayers was by Piccolo’s side as cancer took its toll, he also donated blood and provided support. Exactly days before 26-year-old Piccolo’s death, Sayers won the George S. Halas Award for courage and declared: ‘You flatter me by giving me this award, but I can tell you here and now that I accept it for Brian Piccolo. … I love Brian Piccolo and I’d like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.’

Originally published at on September 23, 2020.




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