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Gale Sayers

Enshrined In Pro Football Hall Of Fame

In 1977 Sayers became the youngest player ever to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In his acceptance speech, Sayers looked back on the road he had traveled to football success: "God gave me a great gift and I had a lot of help developing for this occasion. Reaching this point, however, is not as important as striving to get here. This is true in all professions and all of life's activities. There are doctors, lawyers, schoolteachers, plumbers all who strive to do their very best with their abilities. We hear a lot today about how the American people have lost their dedication to excellence. I don't believe that is true. Each of us excels at different things, sometimes in areas that are only a hobby, more often in our life vocation. The most important thing, however, is to strive to do our very best. Nothing is more of a waste than unrealized potential." That same year the running back also was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

After five years as athletic director at Southern Illinois, Sayers and his wife Ardythe in 1981 returned to the Chicago area, where they continue to live today. From his two marriages Sayers has a total of six children: one daughter and five sons.

It has been more than three decades since Sayers left professional football. Many of his records have fallen by the wayside in the intervening years. But no amount of time will erase the brilliance of the running back's short but memorable career. Of Sayers's injury-shortened football career, Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Red Smith later told ESPN: "His days at the top of his game were numbered, but there was a magic about him that still sets him apart from the other great running backs in pro football. He wasn't a bruiser like Jim Brown, but he could slice through the middle like a warm knife through butter, and when he took a pitchout and peeled around the corner, he was the most exciting thing in pro football."

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