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Gale Sayers

Overwhelmed By Academic Demands

An undistinguished scholar in high school, Sayers was clearly overwhelmed by the academic demands of college. Although he continued to shine on the football field, Sayers did poorly in the classroom during his freshman year, failing English and getting dangerously low grades in most of his other courses. Because of his disappointing academic performance, Sayers was forced to enroll in summer school between his freshman and sophomore years at Kansas. He got a little help with his homework from new wife Linda, whom he married shortly after the end of the spring semester. (The couple later divorced.)

With his academic situation stabilized somewhat, Sayers turned in an amazing performance on the football field during his sophomore year, rushing for 1,125 yards and averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He turned in creditable stats during his junior year, rushing for 941 yards, as well as his senior year, rushing for 678 yards, and earning All-American honors after both seasons. With a Big Eight Conference career record of 2,675 yards rushing, Sayers had truly earned his nickname of the "Kansas Comet."

Academically, Sayers finally hit his stride during his senior year at Kansas, maintaining a B average during the fall semester. With the end of the football season, however, he began to focus almost single-mindedly on a career in pro football, entertaining offers from teams in both the NFL and the rival American Football League, which was later to become the American Football Conference within the NFL. His interest in school waned, and Sayers failed to complete all the credits needed to earn his bachelor's degree. In the NFL draft of 1965, he was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears of the NFL. Sayers himself negotiated a four-year contract with the Bears that paid him $25,000 a season and included a signing bonus of $50,000.

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