Sad news this morning for local football fans, as longtime Wakarusa resident and Pro Football Hall of Fame Running Back Gale Sayers had died at the age of 77.
Sayers has publicly been battling dementia for several years with the care of his wife. Sayers known as the “Kansas Comet” was drafted by the Chicago bears in 1965 and had his career cut short by knee injuries, but left the game widely considered one of the best to ever play the sport. He was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
His death was confirmed this morning by Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO David Baker, who released the following statement:
“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.”
Sayers, unbeknownst to some in the area, lived in the small Elkhart County city of Wakarusa with his wife for more than 20 years. His initial connection to the town can be explained here in a Chicago Sun-Time article from 2006.