On Sunday, longtime Chicago sportswriter Fred Mitchell paid a visit to an old friend, Bears running back great Gale Sayers.
It was the most recent glimpse into the Hall of Famer’s battle with dementia, which he and his wife, Ardie, opened up about last year.
Although Sayers struggles to recognize people, he appeared happy to see Mitchell, who worked for the Chicago Tribune for 41 years and is now an adjunct professor at DePaul.
Sayers greeted Mitchell at the door with a smile and a hug, Mitchell said in a tweet posted Sunday. At one point, Sayers, 75, also gave the retired journalist a thumbs up.
I spent an incredible day with Gale Sayers and his wife, Ardie, at their home. Gale continues to suffer from dementia and struggles to communicate and recognize people. He has lost about 30 pounds. He did greet me at the door with a smile and a hug and later gave me a thumbs-up. pic.twitter.com/dxUl0lbzTS— Fred B. Mitchell (@kicker34) June 25, 2018
Sayers, who Mitchell said has lost roughly 30 pounds, was diagnosed with dementia in 2013. It was kept under wraps until last year when Ardie said she didn’t want people to speculate what was wrong with him.
Sayers’ doctor said last year that “football definitely had something to do with” his condition.
In his seven seasons (from 1965 to 1971) in Chicago, Sayers is known as one of the most dominant running backs to ever take the field in a Bears uniform.
In his first NFL season, Sayers set a league record for most touchdowns scored in a rookie season (22), which still holds true today. He’s also the most recent player to score at least six touchdowns in a single game.
On Sunday, NFL.com ranked Sayers as the No. 2 best Bears player ever; he was second only to Walter Payton.