February 21, 2018

Book Review: Sayers: My Life and Times

Gale Sayers tied an NFL record with six touchdowns against San Francisco. But that’s not where his autobiography begins. “Sayers: My Life and Times” by Gale Sayers with Fred Mitchell starts with the most devastating play of the Hall of Fame halfback’s career. While Sayers is most-remembered for his six-touchdown game or as Brian Piccolo roommate, it’s also true that he played a mere 68 games.

Read “Sayers: My Life and Times” because:

1. “The Kansas Comet” learned how to savor the good times.

Sayers frowns on the scripted end zone celebrations we see today, but even he had to do a little dance after his sixth touchdown in the Bears’ 61-20 romp over the 49ers on Dec. 12, 1965. Don’t worry, coach George Halas kept him humble. ‘“You had a great game,”’ Halas said and left it at that. (31, Sayers) Halas had more to say when he presented Sayers at his Hall of Fame induction in 1977. Sayers was 34, the youngest player ever inducted at the time. Personally, Sayers is more proud of the computer supplies company he co-founded in 1982. Since its inception, Sayers Computer Source boasts revenues surpassing $150 million.

2. Sayers chose to move forward.

To become a successful businessman and family man, Sayers realized he couldn’t dwell on his football career that was cut short. At 25 years old, Sayers was at the peak of his game. In 1968, a direct blow to his knee put him on a path to early retirement three years later. Following a second knee injury, Sayers admits that he looked forward to pain killers. But he also had a healthy fear of them. He couldn’t remain on them, he decided, nor would he feel sorry for himself. Instead, following football, he returned to the stockbroker job he occupied part-time during his playing days. He also took Dale Carnegie classes to overcome a stammer.

3. Honesty reigns in this autobiography. Sayers shares freely about his coach, to his teammates, to his struggles after football.

Sayers acknowledges that Halas had a reputation for racial discrimination and being cheap. However, the 1965 Rookie of the Year refuses to say anything but positive remarks about the father figure in his life. Those who criticize Halas’ spending might not realize “Papa Bear” paid for all of Brian Piccolo’s hospital bills (more than five hundred thousand dollars) in addition to college educations for Piccolo’s three daughters.

Speaking of his former roommate, Sayers recalls how reporters would ask the pair about the black and white dynamic. “If you’re asking me what white Italian fullback from Wake Forest [I’d want as a roommate] I’d say Pick.” (42)

Similar to how Sayers used to move effortlessly, this book flows smoothly. Grab your chance to read about a Chicago Bears legend.

Sam Miller is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he worked with various teams in sports information and received the Freedom Forum – NCAA Sports Journalism Scholarship for his achievements. At the University of Illinois, Miller regularly wrote feature stories about the football team. He has also served as communications intern for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. Prior to that, he worked as a communications intern for USA Basketball and as an associate reporter for MLB.com.