Against Oklahoma State , he carried 21 times for a conference single-game-record yards to lead Kansas to a 36—17 comeback victory. In , his senior year, he led the Jayhawks to a 15—14 upset victory over Oklahoma with a yard return of the game's opening kickoff for a touchdown. He decided that all things being equal, he would rather play in Chicago, and so after consulting his wife he chose to sign with George Halas 's Bears.
He gained 2, all-purpose yards , a record for an NFL rookie, with 1, of them coming from scrimmage. Sayers averaged 5.
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His return averages were Against the Minnesota Vikings on October 17, Sayers carried 13 times for 64 yards and a touchdown; caught four passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns; and had a yard kickoff return touchdown in the 45—37 Bears victory. Just give me 18 inches of daylight. That's all I need. In his second season, Sayers led the league in rushing with 1, yards, averaging 5. He also supplanted his all-purpose yards total from the previous season, gaining 2, to set the NFL record.
The first of his kickoff return touchdowns that season came against the Los Angeles Rams , as he followed a wedge of blockers en route to a yard score. Sharing more of the rushing duties with other backs, such as Brian Piccolo , Sayers gained yards with a 4. His receptions were down as well. He had three kickoff returns for touchdowns on 16 returns, averaging Only rarely returning punts—he returned three all season—Sayers still managed to return one for a score against the San Francisco 49ers , a game in which he also returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and scored a rushing touchdown on a rain-soaked field in San Francisco's Kezar Stadium.
Bears great Gale Sayers’ family opens up about dementia struggle
But Sayers received the punt and ran 58 yards through the middle of the field for the score. In a November game against the Detroit Lions , a cutback by Sayers caused future hall of fame cornerback Lem Barney to fall over, after which Sayers sprinted for a yard gain.
Sayers had the most productive rushing yardage game of his career on November 3, , against the Green Bay Packers , during which he carried 24 times for yards.
Garry Lyle , the teammate nearest Sayers at the time, said, "I saw his eyes sort of glass over. I heard him holler. I knew he was hurt. After surgery, Sayers went through a physical rehabilitation program with the help of Piccolo, who had replaced him in the starting lineup.
In the season, after a slow start and despite diminished speed and acceleration, Sayers led the league in rushing once again with 1, yards. He averaged 4. He moved into second place on the Bears' all-time rushing yards list, passing Bronko Nagurski. For the third time in as many Pro Bowl performances, he was named the back of the game. In the preseason, Sayers suffered a second knee injury, this time bone bruises to his left knee. Attempting to play through the injury in the opening game against the Giants, his production was severely limited. He underwent surgery the following week and was deemed out for the remainder of the season.
During his off time, Sayers took classes to become a stockbroker and became the first black stockbroker in his company's history.
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After another knee operation and rehabilitation period, Sayers attempted a comeback for the season. He was kept out of the first three games after carrying the ball only twice in the preseason, as Bears head coach Jim Dooley planned to slowly work him back into the rotation. After the game, he told reporters he was satisfied with his performance and that his knee felt fine.
Sayers' final game was in the preseason in which he fumbled twice in three carries; he retired from professional football days later. Sayers' ability as a runner in the open field was considered unmatched, both during his playing career and since his retirement.
That's right—the greatest. He had this ability to go full speed, cut and then go full speed again right away. I saw it every day in practice. We played live, and you could never get a clean shot on Gale. On his tendency to escape from tight situations, Sayers once proclaimed, "Just give me 18 inches of daylight.
Friendship Between Gale Sayers & Brian Piccolo Will Be Focus Of New Film (For The 3rd Time)
This quick acceleration became a hallmark of his running style, although some of it was lost following the injury to his right knee. After the injury, he relied more on tough running and engaging tacklers for extra yards. Despite the production from Sayers, the Bears as a whole struggled to find success; in games that Sayers played, the team compiled a record of 29 wins, 36 losses, and 3 ties, and failed to reach the postseason. Because of this, Sayers' main focus each postseason was on the Pro Bowl, where he excelled.
I came into the game in shape, came to play. The movie, in which Sayers was portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the original and by Mekhi Phifer in the remake , was adapted from Sayers' account of this story in his autobiography, I Am Third. The first film was made in the wake of racial riots, escalating racial tensions fueled by Martin Luther King's assassination , and charges of discrimination across the nation. Sayers and Piccolo were devoted friends and deeply respectful of and affectionate with each other.
Piccolo helped Sayers through rehabilitation after injury, and Sayers was by Piccolo's side throughout his illness until his death in June Sayers worked in the athletic department at his alma mater, the University of Kansas, for three and half years, before he was named the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Under Sayers' leadership, this company experienced consistent growth and was renamed Sayers 40, Inc.
Currently, he is chairman of Sayers 40, Inc. Sayers and his wife Ardythe are also active philanthropists in Chicago. The Gale Sayers Center is an after-school program for children ages 8—12 from Chicago's west side and focuses on leadership development, tutoring, and mentoring. In September , Sayers reportedly sued the NFL, claiming the league negligently handled his repeated head injuries during his career. The lawsuit claimed Sayers suffered headaches and short-term memory loss since retirement.
It stated he was sometimes sent back into games after suffering concussions, and that the league did not do enough to protect him. In March , Sayers' wife, Ardythe, revealed that he had been diagnosed with dementia four years prior. She stated that a Mayo Clinic doctor confirmed it was likely caused by his football career. Sayers' record of 22 touchdowns in a season was broken by O. Simpson in , who scored 23;  his 22 touchdowns remains a rookie record as of His career kickoff return average of Sayers was elected to the Lincoln Journal ' s Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in , the first black athlete to be so honored.
His number 48 jersey is one of three retired by the Kansas Jayhawks football team. Later in , Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is still the youngest inductee in its history.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Gale Sayers Sayers in January Pro Football Hall of Fame. College Football Hall of Fame. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 3, Beatrice Daily Sun. Retrieved March 3, — via Newspapers. Johnson Publishing Co. January Retrieved March 2, The Kansas City Times. Retrieved February 15, — via Newspapers.
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