Everyone knows Gale Sayers was a gifted RB who went to the Hall of Fame. But did you know he played only 68 games in the NFL? We got a chance to meet the former Bears RB, and he had some interesting things to share with us.
1) On the 5 most influential people in his life:
1a) Yes, everyone knows about Brian’s Song. Gale Sayers wrote a book which was made into a TV movie. Brian Piccolo helped Sayers in many ways, on and off the field.
1b) George Halas– Papa Bear had a reputation for stinginess, but Sayers said Halas was generous with his time, helped players AFTER football and treated them like family. As an example, Halas paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital costs for Piccolo and years later paid for Piccolo’s childrens’ (through scholarships, and his support) college education at Wake Forest. “George Halas helped me more than anyone in the transition away from football.”
1c) Red Grange
1d) Buddy Young– All 5′ 4″ inches of inspiration from a guy who defied all the doubters and naysayers.
1e) Dick Butkus– Sayers marveled at how Butkus played and lives a life filled with 100% intensity every play and every moment. Sayers admits getting punished by Butkus in practice routinely.
2) On the current labor rift between NFL Players and Owners: “How can there be a strike? Players get paid enough!”
3) On an 18 game schedule: Let’m play!
3a) On the injuries of a longer season: Keep practicing.. everyone is worried about QBs getting hurt, but these are the guys wearing the red jerseys in practice and not getting hit. Maybe if they got hit more in practice they’d get injured less in the games.
3b) On the age requirement to play pro football: High School kids are simply not old enough to handle the physical rigors of the NFL.
4) On rookie salaries: Players getting a $70M contract with $50M guaranteed is ridiculous. The Union and the NFL need to restructure the rookie salaries.
5) On Brett Favre: Favre’s faux-retirement makes a mockery of himself and does not support his fellow players.
6) On the ending of the Lions-Bears game: “It was a catch! (paraphrased) They cheated the Lions.”
7) Who do you like this season? “New England, the Colts and the Ravens.”
8) LT or Butkus? “Butkus. But LT was tough!“
9) Line of the day: “If George Halas told me to go to hell, I’d be in a hurry to get there.”