Look at his rushing numbers from early in the 1965 season and it may have looked like Gale Sayers was struggling. The young running back known as the ‘Kansas Comet’ was not exactly streaking across the NFL sky during his first year with the Chicago Bears…at least not as a traditional running back. George Halas knew he had something in his first round draft pick, but it wasn’t three yards and a cloud of dust.
Sayers was piling up the yards as his rookie year unfolded but it was mostly as a kick return specialist and as a receiver out of the backfield. He scored four touchdowns in his fifth pro game–one rushing, two receiving and one on a kick return. By the end of the year, though, he was considered one of the game’s best ball carriers, too.
In 1966, his rookie card was produced as part of Philadelphia Gum’s third NFL set.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is a rare black and white copy of the same image used to create that iconic card. The 8×10 photo shows Sayers posing for the camera in a Heisman-like maneuver that was commonly used at the time—but no one struck the pose better than the Bears’ newest weapon.
It’s one of only two known surviving examples that are dated 1965 on the reverse and has been designated a Type 1 example. This particular example appears to have emanated from the archives of the Chicago Tribune and does carry some wear from multiple uses throughout Sayers’ rookie year.
The photo is among more than 1,000 up for bid in RMY’s current auction which closes Saturday night.
As kids were trading his card in’66, Sayers would become a first-team All-Pro selection and capture his first NFL rushing title.
“Just give me 18 inches of daylight,” he once said. “That’s all I need.”