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Gale Sayers
refer to caption
Sayers in January 2008
No. 40
Position: Halfback
Personal information
Born: (1943-05-30)May 30, 1943
Wichita, Kansas
Died: September 23, 2020(2020-09-23) (aged 77)
Wakarusa, Indiana
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 198 lb (90 kg)
Career information
High school: Omaha Central
(Omaha, Nebraska)
College: Kansas
NFL Draft: 1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
AFL draft: 1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
As player:
As administrator:
  • Southern Illinois (1976–1981) (AD)
  • Tennessee State (1985–1986) (interim AD)
Career highlights and awards
  • 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 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • Chicago Bears No. 40 retired
  • 2× Consensus All-American (1963, 1964)
  • 3× All-Big Eight (1962–1964)
  • Kansas Jayhawks No. 48 retired
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 4,956
Yards per carry: 5.0
Rushing touchdowns: 39
Return yards: 3,172
Return touchdowns: 8
Player stats at

Gale Eugene Sayers (May 30, 1943 – September 23, 2020), nicknamed the "Kansas Comet", was an American football player. He earned fame both as a halfback and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL).

Sayers was born in Wichita, Kansas. He was raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He studied at the University of Kansas.

In a brief but highly productive NFL career, Sayers spent seven seasons with the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1971, though multiple injuries effectively limited him to five seasons of play.

Prior to joining the Bears, he played college football for the Kansas Jayhawks football team of the University of Kansas, where he compiled 4,020 all-purpose yards over three seasons and was twice recognized as a consensus All-American.

His friendship with Bears teammate Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer in 1970, inspired Sayers to write his autobiography, I Am Third, which in turn was the basis for the 1971 made-for-TV movie Brian's Song.

Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 at age 34, and remains the youngest person to have received the honor. He was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team as a halfback and kick returner, the only player to occupy two positions on the team. For his achievements in college, Sayers was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame the same year.

His jersey number is retired by both the Bears and the University of Kansas.

Following his NFL career, Sayers began a career in sports administration and business, and served as the athletic director of Southern Illinois University from 1976 to 1981.

In 2012, Sayers was diagnosed with dementia after suffering multiple concussions during his football career.

Sayers died from problems caused by dementia on September 23, 2020 in Wakarusa, Indiana at the age of 77.

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