What the sports world is saying —in Tweets, quotes and statements —about Gale Sayers after his death Wednesday at age 77:
Former Bears linebacker Dick Butkus
“[We] will miss a great friend who helped me become the player I became because after practicing and scrimmaging against Gale I knew I could play against anybody. We lost one of the best Bears ever, and more importantly we lost a great person.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy
“It’s a tough day. What an unbelievable human being, No. 1. Player, No. 2. ... The instincts. You see just pure instincts. It was just fluid the way he ran the football. He could tell what he was gonna do before the defender knew ... It was just pretty to watch.”
Bears chairman George McCaskey
“Football fans know well Gale’s many accomplishments on the field: a rare combination of speed and power as the game’s most electrifying runner, a dangerous kick returner, his comeback from a serious knee injury to lead the league in rushing, and becoming the youngest player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“People who weren’t even football fans came to know Gale through the TV movie‘Brian’s Song,’about his friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo. Fifty years later, the movie’s message that brotherhood and love needn’t be defined by skin color, still resonate
“Coach [George] Halas said it best, when presenting Gale for induction at the Hall of Fame: ‘His like will never be seen again.”
Former Bears RB Matt Forte
Rest in heaven to Mr. Sayers #40— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) September 23, 2020
When I was drafted in 2008 he was our guide in Canton when we got to visit the HOF. Amazing inspiration before starting a career. Thanks for setting the standard for @ChicagoBears RB’s. You’ll be missed but always remembered.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
“The NFL family lost a true legend today with the passing of Gale Sayers. Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game’s most exciting players.
Gale was an electrifying and elusive runner who thrilled fans every time he touched the ball. He earned his place as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
We will also remember Gale for his inspiration and kindness. Gale’s quiet, unassuming demeanor belied his determination, competitiveness and compassion.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker
“All those who love the game of football mourn the loss of one of the greatest to ever play this Game with the passing of Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers. He was the very essence of a team player – quiet, unassuming and always ready to compliment a teammate for a key block. Gale was an extraordinary man who overcame a great deal of adversity during his NFL career and life.
“The ‘Kansas Comet’ burst onto the scene in the National Football League and captured the attention of all of America. Despite playing only 68 NFL games because of an injury-shortened career, Gale was a clear-cut — and first-ballot — Hall of Famer for his accomplishments on the field and for the man of character he was in life.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Gale. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ardie, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will fly at half-staff until he is laid to rest.”
Bulls legend Scottie Pippen
Gale Sayers was someone who I admired long before I arrived in Chicago. I loved his approach to the game and of course, how he played it. He inspired me to be great in a city that loves sports like no other. RIP to one of the @NFL’s best ever. #KansasComet @ChicagoBears pic.twitter.com/Rc3zytUjQj— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) September 23, 2020
Falcons coach Dan Quinn
“Both of my parents went to Northwestern. My dad grew up in Evanston and my mom in New Jersey. I’m the youngest of six and everybody was born in Chicago other than me. So yeah, I certainly heard a lot about Gale Sayers from my dad and growing up about the Bears and some of the players that they watched. Just seeing that kind of change of direction. And on the old black and white, seeing some of the highlights is just ridiculous to see. To have that few of games and that kind of production? What a remarkable player.”