As Chicago mourns the death of Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers, pundits, fans and athletes alike have shared their memories about Sayers. On Wednesday, Dan Patrick shared his personal experience watching Sayers as a kid.
“He was the first running back I saw who defied logic,” Patrick said. “You see The Matrix and how Keanu Reeves moves, Gale Sayers was doing that on the football field. He gave you this illusion. It was like, ‘Here it is,’ and then he would move it away from you. He had this unbelievable ability to cut, and he made people miss.
“Gale Sayers did it in a way that had poetry to it. It felt like it was slow-motion, the way he was moving and making people miss, but it was real time.”
But it wasn’t only Sayers’ skill that stuck out to Patrick, it was his unique style. Before Sayers, running backs simply played the game differently.
“Gale Sayers was different from any other running back I saw, up to that point,” Patrick said.
“Prior to that you had guys who tried to run over you. You go back to Jim Taylor, you know they were running over you. You know, Dave Osborn with the Vikings, Mark van Eeghen, you just had that powerful running back.
“He was just wonderful to watch, we got cheated there a little bit.”
Patrick says the football world was “cheated” because of the knee injury which cut his career short. He notes that if Sayers was playing today, he would be able to recover from an injury like that. But in the 1960s, medicine simply wasn’t advanced enough to fix a knee injury like that.
Patrick also shared what it was like to meet Sayers in person, off the field.
“I only met him once, and he had this quiet demeanor about him. He was one of those guys where the personality didn’t match the way he played. Because his personality-- he was kind of compartmentalized and measured, but pleasant. But he would get on a football field and he was an assassin there.”