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Gale Sayers

African American Professional Football Player.  Born: May 30, 1943, Wichita, Kansas.

Gale Eugene Sayers, born in 1943 in Wichita, grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Sayers advanced his football career at the University of Kansas and became known as "the Kansas Comet." The first time he was handed the ball as a freshman in a scrimmage against the varsity, Sayers ran 75 yards for a touchdown. His skills at playing football took him on to play for the Chicago Bears.

In 1965 he signed with the Chicago Bears and spent his entire playing career there. Sayers was named the NFL's rookie of the year and outstanding running back. He won All-NFL honors five straight years and was named Offensive Player of the Game in three of the four Pro Bowls in which he played. Injuries cut short his career and Sayers retired from football in 1971. At the time of his retirement he was the NFL's all-time leader in kickoff returns.

His friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo, who lost a battle with cancer, was portrayed in the 1971 made-for-television movie, Brian's Song.

Following his retirement, Sayers returned to KU to complete his undergraduate degree and continued to earn a post graduate degree.  He also served as the assistant athletic director.  Sayers became the athletic director of Southern Illinois University in 1976.  In 1977, during his first year of eligibility, he was inducted into the Pro Football Fall of Fame as the youngest inductee in the Hall's history. 

In 1984, Sayers returned to Chicago to found Crest Computer Supply Company, later re-named Sayers 40, inc., a a technology consulting and implementation firm serving Fortune 1000 companies.  He continues to be involved in the Chicago community, serving on boards of social welfare organizations and athletic corporations.

Entry: Sayers, Gale

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: March 2009

Date Modified: March 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.