NFL legend Gale Sayers, who inspired the film "Brian's Song," has passed away at the age of 77.
The Chicago Bears superstar, who was considered one of the greatest running backs of all time, died after suffering from his lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease and due to complications from dementia, as reported by The New York Times.
Football World Mourns the Passing of Gale Sayers
The devastating news was confirmed by Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO Carl David Baker.
"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 mentioned in a statement.
In addition, he described the legendary athlete as an "extraordinary man" who bravely "overcame" difficulty, both on the field and in his life.
"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."
To honor his death, Baker mentioned that the "Hall of Fame flag would fly at half-staff" until the football icon is laid to rest.
Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also paid tribute to the legendary Bears running back as he recalled his achievements and contribution to the game.
"The NFL family lost a true friend today with the passing of Gale Sayers," Goodell shared in his statement. "Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game's most exciting players. Gale was an electrifying and elusive runner who thrilled fans every time he touched the ball. He earned his place as a first-ballot Hall of Famer."
Goodell went on and said that the NFL legend will always be remembered for his "inspiration and kindness," as well as his "determination, competitiveness and compassion" towards the sports and his fellow athletes.
Who Is Gale Sayers?
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Sayers was first drafted in 1965 and immediately showed his potential on the field.
Dubbed as the "Kansas Comet" he received his first recognition after he was named as the NFL Rookie of the Year with 22 touchdowns and 132 points.
Throughout his football career, he also gained four Pro Bowl appearances and five first-team All-Pro selections during his first five seasons.
Unfortunately, Sayer's career was cut short after suffering from a major injury during the 1968 season.
He had two torn ligaments in his right knee and suffered from ruptured cartilage.
"The injury was only serious because they had to saw through muscles and nerves," Sayers mentioned at the time, as cited by ESPN.
Playing for only seven seasons, this prompted him to retire in 1971.
Six years later, the "Kansas Comet" was given the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the age of 34 and was hailed as the youngest player ever to receive the recognition.
His last appearance was during the Bears100 celebration in 2019 where he was given a standing ovation by the crowd.