Chicago Bears legend Gail Sayers, largely considered one of the greatest runners of all time, died on Wednesday at the age of 77, the Pro Football Hall of Fame reported.
President and CEO of the Hall of Fame David Baker issued a statement confirming the passage of Cyrus. He did not provide any details about the cause of death.
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“Everyone who loves the game of football mourns the loss of one of the greatest people who ever played this game with the passing of Chicago Bears legend Gale Cyrus,” the statement said. “He was the very essence of a team player ̵
Sayers had a relatively short career, but dominated his seven seasons with the Bears, easily consolidating his place in NFL history.
Drawn in the first round of the 1965 draft, Sayers had an immediate impact on the pitch. He was named Rookie of the Year in the NFL after collecting 22 touchdowns and 132 points, both records at the time.
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Sayers was named four Pro Bowls, where he was named an insulting player of the game three times. He was selected as an All-Pro first team player five times and was named Player of the Year for his return to the NFL in 1969 after tearing ACL and MCL in his right knee.
He ended his career with 4,956 fast yards, 39 touchdowns and an average of five carrying yards.
Sayers became the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 at just 34 years old.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns Gale’s death,” Baker said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Ardi and their whole family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as an inspiration for future generations. The flag of the Hall of Fame will be flown at half headquarters until it is released.”
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Cyrus has been named the team of the 1960s, the 50th Anniversary Team for All Time, the All-Time Team for the 75th Anniversary and the All-Time Team for the 100th Anniversary.
“The NFL family lost a true friend today with the death of Gail Sayers,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Gail was one of the best men in NFL history and one of the most exciting players in the game.”