Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers has died aged 77.
Sayers played 68 games across seven seasons in an injury-shortened career, entering the NFL as the fourth overall draft pick in 1965.
Known as the “Kansas Comet,” Sayers was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 despite playing just seven seasons, all with the Bears. At 34, he was the youngest player ever inducted.
“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 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. Gale was an extraordinary man who overcame a great deal of adversity during his NFL career and life.”
"Give me 18 inches of daylight. That's all I need."
— NFL (@NFL) September 23, 2020
Sayers was named a first-team All-Pro each of his first five seasons, and a four-time Pro Bowler.
He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1965 and won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1969 after suffering a right knee injury the previous season.
Sayers, known as the “Kansas Comet,” scored six touchdowns in a game as a rookie for George Halas and the Bears.
He also scored four touchdowns, including a 96-yard kick-off return, against the Minnesota Vikings in just his fifth NFL game.
In his career, Sayers compiled 9,435 combined net yards on returns, 4,956 yards rushing and 336 points, prior to his retirement in 1972.