Gale Sayers had a brief but extremely productive NFL career as both a halfback and return specialist. The “Kansas Comet” was born on May 30, 1943, and is the youngest inductee ever into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sayers was born in Wichita, Kan. and raised in Omaha, Neb. He was a standout high school athlete in both football and track and field. He entered the University of Kansas and joined its football program. While there, Sayers emerged as an electrifying force and was named consensus All-American twice in his four-year collegiate career.
The Chicago Bears picked up Sayers in the 1965 NFL Draft in the first round with the fourth pick, and he quickly racked up yards en route to being named NFL Rookie Of The Year. In his first year, the elusive offensive star scored a record 22 touchdowns including six in one game. However, injuries slowed Sayers and halted his career, forcing him to walk away from the game in 1971.
In 1967, Sayers and Bears teammate Brian Piccolo became the first interracial roommates in the NFL, forging a strong friendship that was depicted in the 1971 film, “Brian’s Song” starring Billy Dee Williams.
NFL greats such as Mike Ditka and others praised Sayers’ abilities, with Ditka saying he was the best player he’d ever seen. The Hall of Fame couldn’t ignore the big numbers Sayers put up, inducting him in 1977 at the age of 34. Later, Sayers worked as the athletic director for Southern Illinois University.
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Tom Joyner’s Flashback: On This Day Featuring Gayle Sayers was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
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