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Gale Sayers Playing Football

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Gale Sayers, one of the most celebrated running backs in NFL history, has died. On Twitter, many are paying their respects to “The Kansas Comet” and remembering his exploits on the field.

As reported by ESPN on Wednesday (Sept. 23), Sayers passed away after combating the effects of dementia. While Sayers’ career was relatively short, he made a huge impact on the field as a player for the Chicago Bears. The four-time Pro Bowl team member and five-time NFL First-Team All-Pro player ended his career after injuries robbed him of his electrifying blend of speed and power.

After leaving the game for good in 1971, Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 at age 34 and is still the youngest player to receive the honor.

“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 via 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.”

Sayers and his Bears teammate Brian Piccolo made history by becoming the first interracial roommates in the NFL. The subject of their friendship was depicted in the 1971 film Brian’s Song, with Billy Dee Williams in the role of Sayers. A 2001 remake of the film starred Mekhi Phifer in the same role, and was derived from Sayers’ retelling of the friendship from his 1970 autobiography, I Am Third.

After football, Sayers began a career in sports administration and worked in the athletic department of the University of Kansas where he played college football. He then became the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In the mid-80s, Sayers founded the Crest Computy Supply Company in Chicago and remained in the business world via his Sayers 40, Inc. consulting firm. Beyond business interests, Sayers was an active philanthropist and speaker who used his platform to help others.

Across social media, the NFL and other accounts have paid their respects to Sayers along with fans, friends, and colleagues. We’ve collected some of those replies for viewing below.

Gale Sayers was 77.

Photo: Getty