CHICAGO (WAND) - Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers has passed away at the age of 77.
“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," Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement Wednesday. "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 suffered from dementia after being diagnosed more than five years ago.
He was a two-time All-American for the Jayhawks. His career with the Bears lasted just seven seasons, because of knee injuries.
He was a five-time All-Pro and remains the youngest player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, enshrined at 34 in 1977.
He was Rookie of the Year in 1965 after being drafted one spot behind Dick Butkus with the No. 4 overall pick.
He scored six touchdowns in a win over San Francisco at muddy Wrigley Field that season and made four Pro Bowls before hanging it up in 1971, NBC Chicago reports.
"He looked like he was gliding," Hall of Fame tight end and iconic coach Mike Ditka said. "I mean, the field was muddy. Everybody was slipping and sliding, except him. It was the most unbelievable exhibition I've seen in the history of the game. There probably was nothing like that. Just a great, great guy. Great guy. Gale was humble, never said a whole lot. But he was a super football player."