Gale Sayers death brings a lot of grief to Chicago Bears and football fans worldwide. His friendship with a dying teammate depicted in Brian’s Song movie remains fresh in the memory. As reported by officials, Sayers passed away on Wednesday.
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Remembering the legend
Gale Sayers was famous as the “Kansas Comet” due to his college career from the University of Kansas. All seven seasons, he played as one of the Bears. In 1977, Sayers got selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But even before that, he was famous for being beside Brian Piccolo at his death bed. We can never forget the favorite line, “I love Brian Piccolo, and I’d like all of you to love him, too.”
Sayers was one of the best players as he averaged five yards per carry. He was often compared to Barry Sanders and Jim Brown. Due to several injuries, he had a shorter career with 68 games across seven seasons. He played from 1965 to 1971.
Hall of Fame President David Baker said that Sayers gave the essence of what team players must be like. He was also complementing his teammates for a critical block said the CEO. He also called Sayers extraordinary because he overcame several adversities during his NFL career and even his personal life.
Gale was an elusive runner and had a record of six touchdowns in a single game. It includes one catch, one punt return, and four rushings; this match was a clash against San Francisco 49ers in 1965.
Most fans of American football know about Gale’s career and accomplishments. He was a unique combination of power and speed. The man was an electrifying runner and a dangerous kick returner. Moreover, he had a serious knee injury but led a league in rushing after that. Gale was also the youngest player to get selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. George McCaskey, the chairman of Bears, confirmed this statement.
Some people didn’t like football but took interest after knowing able Gale. Brian’s Song left such an impact due to the friendship between teammates Piccolo and Sayers. Fifty years from that time, the message of the film is the same – brotherhood cannot be defined or differentiated by skin color.
Brian’s Song movie about Sayers and Piccolo
Gale Sayers made a big name not only in the NFL but also in pop culture because of his friendship with Brian Piccolo. Their relationship came to life by actors James Caan who played Brian, and Williams, who played Sayers.
The friendship between Piccolo, who was white, and Sayers, who was black, was considered groundbreaking during the 1960s. They were roommates when they were playing on the team.
Brain Piccolo was diagnosed with a quick-spreading testicular cancer that took his life when he was just 26. After his demise in 1970, this movie was made in honor of their commendable friendship and camaraderie.
Around three weeks before Brian’s death, Gale received the 1969 George S. Halas Most Courageous Player Award after leading the league in rushing after overcoming a severe knee injury. He paid tribute to his ailing friend in his speech.
In his speech, he said that he finds Brian much more courageous than himself. He didn’t know if he could come back to football after a knee injury. But Brian had been in the hospital for months and still hopes to get back to playing again. He said that Piccolo has a giant heart, and he is mentally strong. These qualities make him honored to be his friend, and he is proud to have a friend who uses the word “courage” throughout his life.
Sayers went onto say that he is flattered to receive the award. But he accepts it for Piccolo. Brian is the actual man of courage, and should have won the award, Gale said. Lastly, he said that it is mine today but Piccolo’s tomorrow.
Gale Sayers death
After Gale Sayers death, many friends and fans have spoken up about the legend. Actor Billy Dee Williams, who acted in Brian’s Song, said that he has a broken heart. Sayers was a dear friend of his, and the loss is unimaginable.
My heart is broken over the loss of my dear friend, Gale Sayers.
Portraying Gale in Brian’s Song was a true honor and one of the nightlights of my career. He was an extraordinary human being with the the kindest heart.
My sincerest condolences to his family 💔#RIPGaleSayers pic.twitter.com/OyQRlwuznU
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) September 23, 2020
Williams played Sayers in the movie and said that it was a sheer honor to do so. It was one of the highlights of his career, said Williams. He also added that Gale was one of the kindest hearts.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) September 23, 2020
Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, praised Gale for his contribution and compassion. He said that the NFL family lost an honest friend. They will remember him for his kindness and inspiration. He also noted that Gale was a “quiet, unassuming demeanor,” which made him determined, compassionate, and competitive.
The title song of Brian’s Song has the famous line, “I love Brian Piccolo.” Caan made the song one year before his stars took off as the name Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather.” He sent out a tweet offering condolences to the legend of football. He said that Gale has always been an inspiration for him, and he is proud to know him.
— James Caan (@James_Caan) September 23, 2020
During the last few years of his life, Sayers maintained a low profile while fighting dementia. With his frail body, he was last seen at a public appearance in Chicago in 2019 for the 100th anniversary of the storied franchise.
Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary, who were his fellow players, also attended the event. They said they were happy to see him on that day. After Gale Sayers death, Butkus paid tribute to the longtime friend and teammate. He said that he would miss his friend, who shaped him into becoming the player he was. Butkus said that competing against Gale made him practice more. Lastly, he noted that the Bears have lost a gem, and the world has lost a great person.