Dear Chicago Bears,
Gale Sayers was elite, back when elite was still being defined.
That much is undeniable. During his career, he was one of the best, until he was forced out by injury. As a Hall of Famer, his words reverberate throughout the community.
So when he recently spoke out about the Bears, it caught people off guard. He had some things to say, and none of them were particularly kind.
"Cutler hasn't done the job," Sayers said. "Urlacher, I don't know how good he's going to be coming back. He's 33 years old. They need a couple wide receivers, a couple defensive backs. They haven't done a good job."
I have to say, while I disagree with some of Mr. Sayers' comments, he's got some points, and they directly involve you.
Not so much with those first two comments. Cutler didn't do the greatest, that's for certain. Urlacher, though it seems likely he'll return to solid performance, is indeed older. However, the receiving corps, while still young, shows a lot of promise. Defensive backs, I think, have also been shored up quite a bit by the draft of Wright and the trade for Harris.
No, what I have to disagree with is the tone of the words. For example, later in the article, the following quote comes up:
"You can't compare that, because he gets hurt too much," Sayers said. "He's a fine young man. He's a little light. He's not a player who's going to carry 25 times a game. He'll get five carries, catch three passes and run back a couple punts."
Sayers pointed out that he made $50,000 in his final season and a total of $275,000 over his entire career. He said he would like to be playing today.
"You know why? Because of the money," he said. "I wouldn't change my game. I probably would be just as good because I would be on AstroTurf. The money, that's the key right now. Everybody is making so much. A person snapping the football is making a million dollars."
I'll be honest, that hurt me a little to read. The tone suggests that a lot of the negativity is coming from the resentment that players nowadays make a lot of money.
And that's fair. If I did my job, only to watch people do my job later in life, maybe not as well, and make a lot more, I'd be upset too. That's natural. Some of the resentment, too, may be seated in something else:
Other than a few public appearance he makes on behalf of the Bears, he said, he has little contact with the team these days.
"I go to every game I can," he said. "Yes, I do live and die with them."
And this is another place that I can help agree with him. The Chicago Bears are doing it wrong if they're not including Gale Sayers as much as they can. Use him as an ambassador of the game. Get him the fees he's looking for, because he's a living legend for a team with the most rich history of any in the NFL.
The logic behind not utilizing some of the most popular players, not just for your team, but all-time football, is mind-boggling. Yes, you want to keep things "relevant", but these are the resources taht show you're one of the greatest franchises in football.
So go be great again.