AS SEEN IN:
AS PLAYED BY:
Billy Dee Williams
Gale Eugene Sayers (born May 30, 1943) also known as "The Kansas Comet", is a former professional football player in the National Football League who spent his entire career with the Chicago Bears.
Sayers is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. His friendship with fellow Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo was the basis for the 1971 movie Brian's Song. He is a successful entrepreneur in the information technology field and an active philanthropist.
Sayers' friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo, and Piccolo's struggle with cancer (embryonal cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer, presenting as a large tumor in his chest cavity, and which would shortly result in his death), became the subject of the made-for-TV movie "Brian's Song". The movie, in which Sayers was portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the 1971 original, and by Mekhi Phifer in the 2001 remake, was adapted from Sayers' account of this story in his 1971 autobiography, "I Am Third".
A notable aspect of Sayers' friendship with Piccolo, a white man, and the first film's depiction of their friendship, was its effect on race relations. The first film was made in the wake of racial riots, escalating racial tensions in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination, and charges of discrimination across the nation. Sayers and Piccolo were devoted friends and deeply respectful of and affectionate with each other. Piccolo helped Sayers through rehabilitation after injury, and Sayers was by Piccolo's side throughout his illness.