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Keller: A man who was much more than a great football player

Recently, Gale Sayers, the Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back died at age 77. He was the most exciting and elusive running back that ever played the game.

When speaking to different groups, I often mention his accomplishments on the football field. He was nicknamed “The Kansas Comet”, having played at the University of Kansas. He was a first-round draft pick in 1965 and immediately paid dividends for the Bears.

He was voted Rookie of the Year, having tied one NFL record by scoring six touchdowns in a game. George Halas, founder of the Bears said, “If you wish to see perfection as a running back, you had best get a hold of a film of Gale Sayers. He was poetry in motion.” In 1977, at age 34, he was the youngest player inducted into the Hall of Fame.

What he did on the field will be remembered by many football addicts, but I remember him more for his life off the field. He always wore a gold chain with the number 3 hanging on it. When asked what that meant, he said, “That’s a reminder that I daily have to put Jesus first in my life, other people second, and me third.

Prior to 1967, the players were segregated by race in hotel room assignments. When that was dropped, he and Brian Piccolo who was white, roomed together. They were best friends and became even closer when Brian was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after. Sayers mentioned their relationship in his autobiography, “I Am Third,” and in the 1971 movie “Brian’s Song,” which told of their Godly relationship.

Today, Sayers and Piccolo would maybe be considered “The Odd Couple.” When they knelt down it was to pray and when they took a stand, it was as the National Anthem was played to honor what our country stands for.

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Harold Keller at Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, or call (985) 652-8477.