(670 The Score) Gale Sayers, a Hall of Fame running back and an all-time great Chicago Bear, has died at 77, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Wednesday morning. He had been battling dementia.
Sayers played seven seasons with the Bears from 1965-'71, earning his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 as the youngest inductee. A star at Kansas, Sayers was also inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
A series of injuries caused Sayers' career to be shortened by retirement at the age of 28.
"The Kansas Comet burst onto the scene in the National Football League and captured the attention of all of America," Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker said in a statement on Sayers' passing. "Despite playing only 68 NFL games because of an injury-shortened career, Gale was clear-cut -- and first-ballot -- Hall of Famer for his accomplishments on the field and for the man of character he was in life."
Sayers scored six touchdowns in a game Dec. 12, 1965, at Wrigley Field. He's fifth on the Bears' all-time rushing list despite playing just those seven seasons.
"Give me 18 inches of daylight," Sayers once said. "That's all I need."
Bears founder George Halas presented Sayers into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. Sayers' jersey No. 40 is retired by the Bears organization.
"If you wish to see perfection as a running back, you had best get a hold of a film of Gale Sayers," Halas said. "He was poetry in motion. His like will never be seen again."
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.