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The legacy of Gale Sayers lives on at Central

December 9, 2021

A statue of NFL player and Central High School Graduate Gale Sayers is to be put up at Central High School.  

 A statue of Gale Sayers is being put up by the Central High School Foundation at Central High School. Michele Roberts, Executive Director of the Central High Foundation says the idea of the statue had multiple contributors.  

“It was a collaboration of alumni, largely from athletic. They wanted to do something in the memory of Gale,” says Roberts.  

Roberts feels Gale was an obvious choice in honoring an exceptional Central student.  

“Gale, I feel, represents Central student by- he gave back. Throughout his career he persevered and beat all odds. HE excelled. He always remembered his roots, where he came from, and continued until he passed away. He gave back to Central High School, to the foundation, to the students, making sure they had all the opportunities that they could ever dream of,” says Roberts.  

The Roberts and Central High Alumni first reached out to the football stars’ brother, Roger Sayers. The alumni first discussed having a scholarship, but Roger told them that the family would really like a statue.  

The statue of Sayers, created by Central parent Alston Littleton, was set to go up last year, but due to Covid-19, it will go up in January of 2022 and Central will host an unveiling at the first football game of the 2022 season. The statue will stand high with the Victory Eagle.  

“The Victory Eagle is up high, and we have it looking down on one of its greats” says Roberts.  

Gale Sayers, originally born in Wichita, Kansas in 1943, started his football career at Central High School. After graduating from Central as a multi-sport athlete, Sayers moved on to the University of Kansas. During his time in at the University of Kansas, Sayers managed to set a NCAA record for a 99-yard run, among other accomplishments.  

Sayers was first drafted to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, but ended up playing for the Chicago Bears in 1965. He continued to play for Coach George Halas for seven seasons and retired right before the 1972 season. Sayers time with the Chicago Bears was spent getting a record setting 22 touchdowns in his rookie year. Sayers is most recognizable as the youngest player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at age 34. The public also see Sayers as not only a star football player but a lovely friend in the 1971 film Brian’s Song. This film was based on fellow Bears player and best friend Brian Piccolo and his tragic death from embryonal cell carcinoma. 

After a lengthy career with the Chicago Bears, many knee injuries caused Sayers to retire in 1972. Sayers then returned to the University of Kansas to get his undergraduate degree and takes on the career of an Assistant Athletic Director.  

Sayers passed away on September 23, 2020, at age 77 after living with Dementia. Friends and family honor his legacy by sharing their memories of Sayer.  

“The NFL family lost a true friend today with the passing of Gale Sayers. Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game’s most exciting players” says Commissioner Rodger Goodell.  

Aride Sayers, the wife of Sayers, is extremely thankful for the expressions of love and kindness in the death of her husband. Ardie Sayers states how grateful she is for the messages and flowers yet encourages supporters to donate to charity to show their love for Sayers.  

“It makes me stronger just to know all the people that love him all over” says Aride Sayers.  

Though a public event was unable to happen due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the memory of Sayers lives on at Central High School. Students will be reminded of his talent every day and will be given an opportunity to appreciate the legacy of Gale Sayers.  

Roberts makes one final comment when reflecting on what hopes comes from this statue.  

“I think this statue helps currents and future students to look back at the past, to see some of our greats, as well as remember the level of excellence to continue on into the future. I feel the statue is a good thing, as our kids walk out on to the football especially, to know that to dream big, it’s within reach and other people who walk these hallways have done that.”  

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