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Bijan C. Bayne @bijancbayne
, 17 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
75 years ago today Gale Sayers was born in Speed, Kansas. His folks were expecting a girl, and planned to name him "Gale Lynn". Instead they chose Gale Eugene.
When Sayers was a h.s. long jumper during the state meet, having fouled, he needed a clean jump to beat rival Bobby Williams of Lincoln. He had placed a towel parallel to his previous landing. When he walked back to take his final jump, his coach 1/2
2/2 When Gale wasn't looking, Smagacz kicked the towel forward. Gale took his final jumped, & sailed 24'11 3/4" legal. He not only took states, the jump would have been the best in The Big 8 that season. The towel had been moved a foot and a half.
The rival he defeated from Lincoln, Bobby Williams, grew up to also be an NFL kick return leader like Sayers. Sayers wanted to attend Iowa, but soured on them because they were hot after Detroit HB Henry Carr (later '64 Olympic 200 meter champion).
Sayers was upset when his hometown Omaha newspaper named Kent McGloughan of Broken Bow, the # 1 schoolboy football player in the state, above him. McGloughan's son was an NFL g.m.
Sayers decided to enroll at Kansas, which made him the object of a late of hate mail and hate from Nebraska fans. For a time his QB was Steve Renko.
Gale Sayers as a junior vs. Nebraska:
Sayers as a junior against Oklahoma:
Gale Sayers as a sophomore vs. Oklahoma (color):
Gale Sayers was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears. In a scene straight out of "The Graduate", NFL consultant Buddy Young advised him to play for Chicago. "Markets", former Illini Young told Sayers.
One issue w/ the "markets" opportunity was endorsements. Gale had what speech therapists and pathologists term "a lazy tongue". A frat brother named Jesse Mitchell worked w/ him on his diction.
Sayers was part of that historic 1965 NFL & AFL (separate) draft(s), w/ Tucker Fredrickson, Ken Willard, Dick Butkus, Donny Anderson, Jack Snow, Joe Namath, Mike Curtis, Lance Rentzel, Ralph Neely, Fred Biletnikoff, Roy Jefferson, Otis Taylor, Verlon Biggs & Craig Morton
When Billy Dee Williams was cast in "Brian's Song", Sayers was on set, as it was in part filmed at Bears' training camp in Renneselaer, Ind. "His legs are too small" Sayers remarked.
Gale Sayers is the youngest person elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has highest lifetime kick return average in NFL. His 22 TD's (1965) are a rookie record. He also holds the rookie mark for all purpose yds. in a 14 game season. No one since him has scored 6 TD game
There have arguably been equally elusive runners to Sayers at the line of scrimmage, strong shifters & sweepers. Mercury Morris, OJ Simpson, Tony Dorsett, Joe Washington, Barry Sanders. In the open field, one-and-one, he is without peer. A shoulder, a subtle head fake, jab step
What distinguishes Sayers is his ability to arrive at a full stop, even off balance, deliver a feint w/ no wasted motion, & resume peak speed as soon as the defender commits.
Fun fact about Sayers' game: He threw a mean halfback option. He's lefthanded.
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