home button

timeline button

editor's choice button

biographies button

places, things, concepts button

subject browse button

multimedia button

activities button

help button

Sayers, Gale

in full Gale Eugene Sayers

(born May 30, 1943, Wichita, Kansas, U.S.) American gridiron football player who in 1977 became the youngest player ever voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though knee injuries shortened his career, Sayers showed in his seven seasons that he was one of the most elusive running backs in the history of the National Football League (NFL).

Sayers first gained national attention as a two-time All-American (1963–64) at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1965, and in his first season he amassed 2,272 combined rushing, receiving, and kick-return yards, as well as 22 touchdowns, then a record for a rookie. That year, in a game against the San Francisco 49ers, he tied an NFL record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game. Not surprisingly, he was named Rookie of the Year in 1965. He twice led the league in rushing (1966, 1969), was named All-NFL five years in a row (1965–69), and has the best career kickoff-return average in the NFL. Sayers's close friendship with fellow Bears halfback Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer in 1970, was depicted in the acclaimed 1971 television movie Brian's Song.

Copyright © 1994-2005 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.