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Legendary NFL Hall Of Fame RB Has Passed Away

Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers laughing.

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 20: Hall of Fame Chicago Bears Dick Butkus (L) and Gale Sayers share a laugh on the sidelines before a game between the Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 20, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Steelers 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Former Chicago Bears superstar and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers has passed away at age 77.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame officially announced Sayers' passing this morning. The "Kansas Comet" was enshrined in Canton in 1977 despite having his outstanding NFL career cut short due to knee injuries.

Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker called Sayers "one of the greatest to ever play this game" and described him as "the very essence of a team player" in a statement this morning.

"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Gale," Baker wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ardie, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will fly at half-staff until he is laid to rest."

Gale Sayers was a five-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler during his shortened NFL career. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1965 and earned Comeback Player of the Year in 1969.

Sayers finished with 4,956 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns in 68 career games, all with the Bears. An electrifying return man as well, he scored six touchdowns on kickoff returns and two on punt returns.

Outside of his on-field accomplishments, Sayers' friendship with teammate and fellow running Brian Piccolo was immortalized in the movie Brian's Song. After his playing days ended, Sayers served as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University from 1976-81.

The football world lost an absolute legend today. Rest in peace, Gale Sayers.