(WFRV) – Few football players have made a greater impact on the game in such short time, but Gayle Sayers was truly a special talent. The Pro Football Hall of Fame confirmed that he died Wednesday morning at the age of 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 David Baker said in a statement. “He was the very essence of a team player – quiet, unassuming and always ready to compliment a teammate for a key block.”
Sayers totaled 9,435 total yards overall, with 4,956 rushing yards in 68 games over 7 years. The former Bears running back and kick returner was a five-time All-Pro and was named a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1977.
In his rookie season, Sayers was drafted by Chicago Bears with the 4th overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft, and the 5th selection in the AFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sayers decided to play for George Halas and the Bears and in his rookie year, he scored an NFL-record 22 touchdowns. He gained 2,272 all-purpose yards which was a record for an NFL rookie. In 1966, Sayers earned his 1st rushing title while leading the league in with 1,231 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry with eight touchdowns.
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added:
“The NFL family lost a true friend today with the passing of Gale Sayers. Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game’s most exciting players.
Gale was an electrifying and elusive runner who thrilled fans every time he touched the ball. 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.
We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Ardie, and their family. Our thoughts are with his teammates, the Bears organization, the many fans who remember him as a football player and the many more people who were touched by Gale’s spirit and generosity.”
Sayers by the numbers:
Rushing yards: 4,956
Rushing TD’s: 39
Yards per carry: 5.0
Receiving yards: 1,307
Receiving TD’s: 9
Return yards: 3,172
Return touchdowns: 8
4× Pro Bowl (1965–1967, 1969)
5× First-team All-Pro (1965–1969)
NFL Comeback Player of the Year (1969)
NFL Rookie of the Year (1965)
2× NFL rushing yards leader (1966, 1969)
NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
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