Sayers honored

Gale Sayers -- former KU star and one of the biggest names in NFL history -- will be the Omaha Press Club's next "Face on the Barroom Floor" when he is recognized on Saturday, Jan. 17, in a roast at the Press Club.

The "Faces" are caricatures of well-known newsmakers, who have been selected for the honor by the Press Club. This will be the 94th "Face" to be installed since 1971.

Reservations are mandatory for all of the evening's events. The evening begins at 5 p.m. with an autograph/photo session with Sayers. A reception follows at 5:30 p.m., and the roast/unveiling of the caricature is at 6:30 p.m. For those staying for dinner, tickets are available at $50 per person by calling 402-345-8008.

Only 220 dinner tickets will be sold. "Because of the high interest in the event and limited space, we have had to limit the number of tickets we can sell for this face event," said OPC President Scott Darling.

There will be a limited number of spaces on a first-come, first-served basis for those who would like to attend the reception and unveiling only. Individuals wishing to do this need to call the Press Club, which is located on the 22nd floor of the First National Bank building at 1620 Dodge St.

Longtime Omaha sportscaster Jack Payne will serve as emcee at the event. Roasters will include Rep. Tom Osborne, former head football coach of the University of Nebraska; Gale's brother, Roger Sayers; attorney Don Fiedler, who played with Sayers at Omaha Central High School; Fred Abboud, former coach of the 1955 Midget football team that featured both Gale and Roger Sayers; and Richard Nared, a life-long friend of Sayers.

Roberts Dairy sponsored the Midget team, one of six in the league that started in 1950. The Sayers roast will serve as a reunion for members of the 1955 Roberts Dairy team.

Abboud said the Sayers brothers were spectacular: "You could see how great and how fast both of them were. It didn't take a whole lot of coaching on my part."

The Roberts Dairy team won the Nebraska State Midget Football League State Championship in 1955 and 1956.

Sayers went on from Midget football to become a star athlete at Omaha Central High School. Following high school, he went to the University of Kansas, where he was a two-time All-America running back. From 1965 to 1971, he played in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, earning rookie of the year honors in 1965 when he scored a then-record 22 touchdowns. He led the NFC in rushing in 1966 and 1969 and was named All-Pro five times.

In the 2002 World Almanac and Book of Facts, Sayers is included as a kick returner on the All-Time NFL Team selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. In addition, the 2000 World Almanac and Book of Facts includes Sayers on its list of the 250 all-time greatest athletes. Bob Gibson, former St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame pitcher, is the only other Nebraska athlete on this list.

Following his NFL career, Sayers served as assistant athletic director at his alma mater, the University of Kansas, while pursuing a degree in physical education and later his master's degree in educational administration.

From 1976 to 1981, Sayers was athletic director at Southern Illinois University. He then moved back to Chicago to begin a sports marketing and public relations firm. He and his wife, Ardythe, launched a computer supplies firm in 1984, and the company now has locations across the United States. The company is the seventh largest firm in the United States run by an African American.

In addition to his business success, he has authored a book on the fundamentals of football's offensive strategies, "Offensive Football." His autobiography, "I Am Third," was produced into an award-winning television movie, "Brian's Song."

Above: Gale Sayers, 1963 (AP Photo) Top Stories