It was announced this morning that Gale Sayers, Hall of Fame running back for the Chicago Bears in the 1960s and early 1970s, passed away at age 77. Sayers had been battling dementia and other neurological issues for several years, which were likely related to his football career.
He was one of the most electric runners of his generation (and maybe ever), but knee injuries cut his career short, and he only played in 68 NFL games. When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, he was the youngest person to be enshrined, and he became the example which was pointed to, when other players with short careers were being considered for the Hall.
He was, of course, also known for his friendship with Brian Piccolo, his fellow running back with the Bears, who died of cancer; their story was depicted in the TV move Brian’s Song, in which Billy Dee Williams played Sayers.
My brother-in-law worked for Sayers for several years in the 1990s, when Sayers was operating a technology-consulting company, and had nothing but good things to say about the man.