"All those who love the game of football mourn the loss of one of the greatest to ever play this game", Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement. In his rookie season, he scored 22 touchdowns - including six on a muddy field against the San Francisco 49ers, tying a single-game record - and gained 2,272 all-purpose yards, as a runner, receiver and kick returner.
In 1977, Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at 34-years-old, the youngest former player ever welcomed into the shrine.
Mr. Sayers was often at Piccolo's side until he died at 26 in 1970. After another serious knee injury in the preseason of 1970, he played in only four more games and rushed for just 90 more yards.
Another part of Sayers' career lies in the 1971 film Brian's Song that depicted the deep friendship between the hall-of-famer and the white player named Brian Piccolo who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after being drafted in 1965.
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According to Long, Sayers' No. 48 is one of just three numbers to be retired by the KU football program.
"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Kansas great, Gale Sayers", KU head coach Les Miles stated. "His effective playing time of 68 games is also the shortest of any Hall of Famer". Gale's quiet unassuming demeanor belied his determination, competitiveness and compassion.
"Sharing a room with Brian Piccolo - the first interracial roommates in the NFL - set an example for racial equality in the League and across the country". I love Brian Piccolo, and I'd like all of you to love him.
Sayers suffered from dementia in the later stages of his life.
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Kansas running back Gale Sayers is pictured in this file photo from 1962. "Tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him".
In a statement released a few hours after Sayers' passing was announced, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long revealed that a statue of Sayers would be unveiled at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium during halftime of KU's home game against Oklahoma State on October 3. The type of person the NFL will nearly certainly celebrate this upcoming weekend, not only in the Bears game, but through the entire National Football League.
Mr. Sayers, a Wichita native who became known as "the Kansas Comet", left an indelible mark on the National Football League despite injuries that effectively limited him to five seasons and only 68 games.
"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Gale". We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Ardie, and their family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations.
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