Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers has died at the age of 77, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday morning.
"All those who loved 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," Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement. "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."
Sayers was an All-American at Kansas before being drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1965 draft. He was nicknamed the "Kansas Comet." He was a four-time Pro Bowler in his career that spanned just 68 games due to injuries. He scored six touchdowns in a single game against the San Francisco 49ers at Wrigley Field in 1965. He was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
In 2017, Sayers' family opened up to the Kansas City Star about his battle with dementia. He sued the NFL in 2014 over concussions that led to "loss of memory, dementia, Alzheimer's, neirolohical disorder, depression, sleep problems and irritability" in his life after football.
Sayers received a standing ovation from Bears fans when he visited the team in June 2019 for the team's 100th anniversary celebration.