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Gale Sayers’ family describes his struggle with dementia

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 31: Pro Football Hall of Fame member Gale Sayers is honored at halftime during the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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Gale Sayers is 73 years old, and still looks well.

But his family knows better.

In a moving story by Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star, the family of the legendary Bears running back describes his battle with dementia, saying he’s still physically strong but struggling with many daily activities.

“That brain controls everything, doesn’t it?” said his wife, Ardie Sayers.

His wife described the vigilance required to care for Sayers now, noting that he recently tried washing his hands with carpet cleaner. She said another NFL wife told her: “Don’t let him out of your sight.”

“It keeps you on your toes,” she said.

The story describes Sayers as able to have “halting” conversations, but noted that he barely spoke during a seven-hour visit with a reporter.

“You build memories all your life, and the next thing you know you don’t remember anything,” his brother Roger Sayers said. “It’s just tough.”

Sayers sued the NFL in 2014, saying concussions led to problems including: “loss of memory, dementia, Alzheimer’s, neurological disorder, depression, sleep problems and irritability.”