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Gale Sayers

NFL Hall of Famer Gale Eugene Sayers was born on May 30, 1943, in Wichita, Kansas. Sayers grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and graduated from Omaha Central High School. As a running back at the University of Kansas, he was a two-time All-American player known as "The Kansas Comet." In 1963, he set an NCAA Division I record with a 99-yard run against Nebraska.

Sayers was drafted in 1965 by the Chicago Bears and remained with the team for his entire NFL career. He was the unanimous choice for NFL Rookie of the Year in 1965. He was named the MVP of the 1967, 1968 and 1970 Pro Bowl Games, and he was named to the 75th Anniversary All Time NFL Team. Sayers was inducted into the Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1975, the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977, and the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. In July 2000, he was named to the NFL All-Time Millennium Team.

After completing his professional football career in 1971, Sayers returned to the University of Kansas to receive his B.A. degree in physical education while also working as the assistant athletic director. Sayers accepted the assignment as assistant director of the Williams Education Fund for three years and received his M.A. degree in educational administration. Sayers served as athletic director at Southern Illinois University from 1976 to 1981.

Sayers moved back to Chicago and launched a sports marketing and public relations firm, Sayers and Sayers Enterprises. He then started a computer supplies business in 1984 and built that business into a provider of technology products and services. In 1999, Sayers was inducted into another Hall of Fame - the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Sayers spends a great deal of time supporting and fundraising for a variety of charitable organizations including the Better Boys Foundation, the Cradle Adoption Agency, the Gale Sayers Center, Grid Iron Greats, Junior Achievement, and Wesley House. The University of Kansas has established the Gale Sayers Microcomputer Center in recognition of Sayers’s commitment to both education and technology. Sayers has authored an instructional publication on the fundamentals of football's offensive strategies called Offensive Football. In addition, his 1971 autobiography, I Am Third, was produced into an award-winning television movie, Brian's Song, starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. In 2007, he released a new book, Gale Sayers, My Life and Times.

Sayers serves on the board of directors at American Century Mutual Funds, located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Accession Number

A2008.124

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/5/2008 |and| 11/24/2008

Last Name

Sayers

Maker Category
Schools

Omaha Central High School

University of Kansas

Howard Kennedy Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gale

Birth City, State, Country

Wichita

HM ID

SAY01

Favorite Season

Christmas

Sponsor

Allstate

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

As You Prepare To Play, You Must Prepare To Quit.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/30/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Entrepreneur and football player Gale Sayers (1943 - ) was drafted by the Chicago Bears and was named rookie of the year in 1965, then Pro Bowl MVP in 1967, 1968 and 1970. He was inducted into the NFL: Hall of Fame in 1977. He served as athletic director at Southern Illinois University, then founded Sayers and Sayers Enterprises in Chicago. His 1971 autobiography, 'I Am Third,' was produced into an award-winning television movie, 'Brian's Song.'

Employment

Chicago Bears

Southern Illinois University

Sayers 40, Inc.

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gale Sayers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gale Sayers lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gale Sayers describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gale Sayers describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gale Sayers describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gale Sayers describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gale Sayers recalls his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gale Sayers remembers moving to Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gale Sayers describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gale Sayers remembers his introduction to football

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gale Sayers recalls his early football teammates

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gale Sayers describes Omaha Central High School in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gale Sayers remembers his early aspirations and mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gale Sayers recalls playing football at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gale Sayers talks about college football players' training

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gale Sayers remembers his community at the University of Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gale Sayers recalls being drafted into professional football

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gale Sayers remembers playing for the Chicago Bears

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gale Sayers remembers Coach George Halas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gale Sayers talks about his teammates on the Chicago Bears

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gale Sayers describes his accomplishments with the Chicago Bears

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gale Sayers remembers playing in the Pro Bowl

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gale Sayers describes his community in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gale Sayers describes the impact of his knee injuries on his football career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gale Sayers recalls his retirement from the National Football League

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gale Sayers talks about his decision not to become a football coach

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gale Sayers remembers Brian Piccolo

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gale Sayers recalls the racial discrimination on the Chicago Bears team

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gale Sayers talks about the football stadiums in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gale Sayers talks about his friendship with Brian Piccolo

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gale Sayers recalls winning the Comeback Player of the Year award

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gale Sayers describes his retirement from professional football

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gale Sayers recalls earning a master's degree at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gale Sayers talks about 'Brian's Song'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gale Sayers describes his relationship with the Chicago Bears' fans

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gale Sayers recalls his athletic directorship at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gale Sayers describes his computer hardware supply company

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gale Sayers describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gale Sayers talks about today's professional athletes

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gale Sayers reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gale Sayers talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gale Sayers describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

2$2

DATape

5$4

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Gale Sayers describes his computer hardware supply company
Gale Sayers recalls the racial discrimination on the Chicago Bears team
Transcript
And so I decided to leave Southern Illinois [Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois], and I moved back to Chicago [Illinois] in 1983 and started my business [Sayers Group LLC]. And I was looking for a field of the future. And I took a look at a couple opportunities in insurance and automobile dealerships. And my partner and I, we decided on computers. So, we chose computers.$$Okay. Now the computer industry was just, especially the personal computer industry (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--was just jumping off.$$Just now starting up, that's right.$$The Macintosh, and the SEs [Macintosh SE], and then--$$Yeah.$$--the IBM [International Business Machines Corporation] desk machines with the little green screens and stuff.$$Yeah. IBM, Compaq [Compaq Computer Corporation], you know--$$Yeah.$$But you know, as you said, they were just coming up. And we started out in supplies--ribbons and diskettes and mag tape and computer paper, and things like that. And as we grew our business, our customers would ask us, you know, "If you can sell us ribbons, why can't you sell us printers? And if you can sell us diskettes, why can't you sell us computers?" So, that's when we got into the hardware side of the business. And when we would--we sold all the tier one manufacturers--IBM, Compaq, HP [Hewlett-Packard Company], Apple [Apple Inc.], Sun [Sun Microsystems, Inc.], and all those people. Whenever we got a manufacturer, an IBM, they would come in and train a lot of people. Compaq would come in and train a lot of people. So that's when we got--we got to know about the computer. And, you know, and so then after we got into the hardware side of it, somebody's got to fix them. We got into the service side of it, you know, and so that's what we do today. We do it all. We fix them. We--our niche is the Fortune 500 companies around the country. That's who we sell our products to--Allstate Insurance [Allstate Corporation], Blue Cross Blue Shield [Blue Cross Blue Shield Association], people like that. And we have offices in Chicago, Boston [Massachusetts], Florida, and a small office in Nashville, Tennessee. And so, you know, things are going well.$$Okay, okay. Well, you say you started providing servicers at one time and then the networks, too, you know?$$Yes. And all that has led, you know, to computers. And you know, if a company wants to put together a network and things like that, we have people to come in and help them decide what type of network they want to go with. We can do that.$$Okay. Do have a favorite computer between the Apple and the PC [personal computer]?$$Not, not really. You know, Apple, they make good stuff, you know. But I have a Hewlett-Packard laptop, you know, and I got a Hewlett-Packard machine at home at my desk, you know. So, but they all are great machines, whether it's IBM, whether it's Compaq, whether it's, you know, Lenovo [Lenovo Group Ltd.]--whatever the, you know, whoever it may be. You know, they're all about the same right today.$$Okay. So I can't get you in any trouble by (laughter)--$$No, no trouble.$$All right, okay.$$We sell them all (laughter).$$All right, okay.$$Yeah.$$So, now as you've been into sports retirement--$$Uh-huh.$$And as you're a success in the business world--I mean, are you still like pulled back into sports from time to time to make commentary and that sort of thing?$$Uh-huh.$$So that's been like another, almost like another business, right, in some--?$$Well, it's, it has been maybe. But, you know, computers is what I do most of the time, 95 percent of the time. Yes, I do some speaking some engagements and things like that, but that's my business, what I do. And on the sidelines, if somebody at the station wants me to talk about the Bears [Chicago Bears], or if they want me to go to a game and then commentate on the football, I will do things like that. But that's very, very small, to what I do with my computer company.$$Okay. Where do you see your company going in terms of growth in the next ten years?$$Oh, well, the next ten years, that's too far out to even talk about. When you got an economy like we got today, we don't even, I don't even think about ten years from now. I'm thinking about what's going to happen three months from now, or two years from now. Because President Obama [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama], he's going to have a tough, tough, road to travel, you know. I think he could really be, he's going to do a great job, but some of the things that he promised people, it's going to be two years from now or three years from now (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) It's gonna be hard to deliver to folks--$$To deliver them. Because, you know, this economy, we have to do something too with this economy. And if we don't get this right, you know, we're going to--we're in trouble, we're in real trouble.$Before then, what you're saying--just to be clear, is that before that the room assignments were basically racial. The black--$$For the--$$--players were together, and the white players--?$$For the most part, it was. Because back then, all, many, 99 percent of the black players lived on the South Side of Chicago [Illinois]. The white players, the North Side of Chicago. And we would ride in a car together to practice. And so when they said, "Who do you want to room with?" "Oh, I want to room with George Seals. I ride to practice with him every day." Or, "I want to room with Dick Gordon, or Jimmy Jones." And so many of the black players, most of them, at that time most of them roomed together. Because (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So, yeah. So what we're also saying is that the demographics of the city, the segregation that already existed in the city, determined association in your neighborhood in a lot of ways.$$No question about it, yes, it did. Because again, we, you know, we got the housing people and that's the way they shifted us, right to the South Side of Chicago. And we didn't think anything of it. Because, hey, you know, if you're a good football player or baseball player or basketball player, you know, the people in the neighborhood knew you, and they enjoyed, you know, what you did. So, we didn't have a problem with that. But when George Halas decided to room by position, you know, people thought that was, you know, a big deal. But it wasn't a big deal to him, because he was trying to get the best out of his players [on the Chicago Bears] and making sure that, you know, "Do you know your assignments?" and things like that. And it worked out well for us. And when people saw that Brian [Brian Piccolo] and I were rooming together, "Why are y'all rooming together? You know, this is the first time ever for this." Is it? I didn't know. Brian didn't know. You know, so it wasn't no big deal to us. But a lot of people made a big deal of it.$$Okay, okay. So when you traveled on the road, you know, you all shared the same room?$$Yes.$$On the road and stuff?$$Uh-huh.$$You didn't share the same room in town, though, did you?$$Oh, no, no, no. Because, you know, me and Brian--he lived southwest, and I lived south. And a lot of the other players lived north. And no, we would drive our cars down to Wrigley Field [Chicago, Illinois], and so it wasn't a problem. Then when we'd go on a road trip, hey, we'd room together.