Sport

NFL Legend Gale Sayers Dead At 77 After Battle With Dementia

NFL Legend Gale Sayers Dead At 77 After Battle With Dementia”

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. "But he also was a real trailblazer in business and in college athletics and made an impact in whatever he did".

Sayers hit the National Football League like a bolt from the blue, scoring 22 touchdowns as a rookie - including six in one game. The statue will be in front of KU's Anderson Football Complex at the stadium.

"It is a long overdue honor and will be a bittersweet ceremony", Long said in the statement. He ran for 14 touchdowns as a rookie to tie Walter Peyton's single-season franchise record, while his 22 total touchdowns that year set a new record, one that O.J. Simpson would eventually break.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ardie, and their entire family".

Governor Laura Kelly stated Wednesday on Twitter: "Gale Sayers was one of the best to play".

"We will also forever remember Gale for his inspiration and kindness", Goodell said. "We lost an extraordinary Kansan today".

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"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Kansas great, Gale Sayers", KU head coach Les Miles stated.

Added Long, who called Sayers "one of the greatest, if not the greatest, players to ever wear a Kansas football uniform: "His achievements on the field are well documented and he certainly left his mark on the KU football and NFL records books, but Gale Sayers was far more than a football player".

Known as the "Kansas Comet", Sayers was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 despite playing just seven seasons, all with the Bears. "That's all I need", he once said.

Born in Wichita and a high school star at Omaha Central (Neb.) before he went on to KU, with the Jayhawks Sayers led the Big Eight Conference and ranked No. 3 nationally in his debut season of 1962, with 1,125 rushing yards, and averaged a nation-leading 7.1 yards per carry. Sayers appeared in just two games in each of his final two seasons (1970 and 1971) while attempting to return from those knee injuries. He joins a growing list of football players who developed dementia and died of brain damage while still young.

For his bounce-back season in 1969, he was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award, which he promptly passed on to close friend and teammate Brian Piccolo, who was dying of cancer. "In many ways, our country is still trying to emulate the courage, commitment, compassion and excellence Gale has demonstrated since first setting foot on a football field in Kansas". It was an honor, he said, to portray Sayers.

Gary Bedore covers all aspects of Kansas basketball for The Star - the current team as well as former players and coaches and recruiting.



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