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Sayers: My Life and Times


“Bereft” and “lost” are two words that describe you these days.

You find yourself listlessly flipping through TV channels, click-click-clicking in the hopes that somebody’s doing pigskin prognostication for a new season almost half a year away. You page through the newspaper, looking for some gossip, a score, a small story, even a picture of your favorite player – anything.
Just make it football-related.
Football season is over and life without it is tough. So buck up and grab “Sayers: My Life and Times” (c.2007, Triumph Books, $24.95, 234 pages, includes index) by Gale Sayers with Fred Mitchell (foreword by Dick Butkus). Football season is done, but legendary players and their stories go on forever.
It’s hard to believe that Gale Sayers played only 68 pro football games. Sayers smashed record after record (even after he smashed his knee in a game against the 49ers) and was the youngest player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He retired from the game nearly 40 years ago. His jersey number, 40, was retired in 1994.
Sayers is proud of his NFL career and the friends he made while he played but he says that, to him, football was just a game. His life and accomplishments off the field mean just as much to him as do his football feats.
In this book, he writes briefly about his childhood in the “Toe” and at length about his athletic prowess in high school which gained the attention of several colleges. Sayers says he’s thankful for his education from Kansas University, and for the opportunities he had to hone his skills. He was honored to wear a Bears jersey.
He remembers his friendship with former teammates and college chums, including the late Brian Piccolo. Sayers recalls Piccolo’s sense of humor, common sense, and courage, and he recounts how the movie inspired by their friendship was cast and filmed.
But while Sayers is nostalgic about the way football used to be, he’s harsh when writing about today’s players. He takes current players to task for their end-zone shenanigans, complaining about their lack of decorum following a touchdown. He opines that they make too much money (Sayers says he made just $275,000 in his 7-year NFL career), and he expresses concern over the way the league has treated former NFL players from the early years.
Nothing pleases a football fan more than talking The Game over a cold one, and if you stop at the fridge just before you pick up this book, you’ll get the same feeling. “Sayers: My Life and Times” is almost 100% pure football, loaded with stats and names and game memories that are paradise for a passionate pigskin patron. Be aware – if you’re looking for warm-fuzzy personal, non-game memories, they’re in here but they’re sparse. Another “Brian’s Song”, this ain’t.
Still, if you remember Sayers racing down the field, if you’re a Bears fan from way back, or if you’re just aimless and totally lost from Football Deprivation, then grab this book. “Sayers: My Life and Times” is a big score for you.