Chicago Bears Legend Gale Sayers, the “Kansas Comet,” Dead at 77

The Pro Football Hall of Famer had been suffering from dementia for nearly a decade

Chicago Bears Legend Gale Sayers, the “Kansas Comet,” Dead at 77
Gale Sayers in Chicago Bears uniform. Sayers is dead at 77.
Bettmann Archive

Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers, the “Kansas Comet,” has passed away at the age of 77, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday morning.

Blessed with breakaway speed and a nose for the end zone, Sayers scored 56 touchdowns in 64 games over his first five seasons in the NFL from 1965-69 — 39 rushing, nine receiving, six on kickoff returns and two on punt returns. He also threw a touchdown pass.

An All-American running back at Kansas before joining the Bears, Sayers ended up playing in just 68 NFL games due to injuries but was still a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sayers was inducted into the Hall of Fame at age 34, the youngest inductee in history.

“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,” said Hall of Fame president David Baker. “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.”

Diagnosed with dementia in 2012, Sayers went public about his condition in 2017.

His wife, Ardythe Sayers, said she blamed her husband’s football career for his condition.

“Like the doctor at the Mayo Clinic said, ‘Yes, a part of this has to be on football,’” she said. “It wasn’t so much getting hit in the head. It’s just the shaking of the brain when they took him down with the force they play the game in.”

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