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"BRIAN'S SONG": One More Time! (Person to person extra).

COACH: After your great career in professional football and athletic administration you made All-American again in big business. What is the name of your newest game?

SAYERS: For the last 18 years, I have been involved with my own computer company. We distribute computer hardware and software and do all the integration of the network services for Fortune 1,000 companies across the country.

We have 13 locations throughout the country.

COACH: How do you feel about the process that has turned football into a year-round game with off-season training, spring football, and summer practices? Has it made the game better?

SAYERS: I think they're doing that stuff because the money is so great and players don't have to get off-season jobs. When I played, I had to find a job during the off-season.

With the minimum salary in the NFL now being around $400,000, players have the luxury to train in the off-season. In fact, they are paid extra to get them to come to summer practice. I find that absurd.

I am not demeaning the training. With the players being as big as they are, you have to be in shape year-round. If I were getting paid that kind of money, I would train all year-round to make sure that I was ready in the fall.

What I don't like about the game today is all the hot-dogging and foolish dancing. They're dancing in the end zone, dancing when they make a tackle, and dancing when they run for five yards. I don't think the game needs that.

These guys seem to be forgetting the players who are out there helping them make all the plays.

COACH: What is your involvement with the remake of "Brian's Song?"

SAYERS: We talked about it last year and I approved the script. I saw the remake and they did a good job. Some of the things I didn't like about the first version, in which Billy Dee Williams portrayed me, have been changed for the better.

COACH: Whom would you have preferred to play Gale Sayers -- Billy Dee Williams or Mehki Phifer, who played you in ABC's remake of "Brian's Song?"

SAYERS: They were both very good.

When I was given the "Courageous Player of the Year" award by the New York Football Writers in 1970, I made a speech in which I gave the award to Brian, who had only about a month to live.

In the original movie, Billy Dee depicted me as shy throughout the whole film.

It was true that I was shy as a rookie, but by the time I became a star with the Bears, I had developed a lot more polish. Mehki Phifer did a better job of showing my growth in the league.

COACH: How did you originally befriend Brian Piccolo?

SAYERS: We got drafted the same year and we started rooming together in 1967 when the coaches decided to room the players by position. We just became good friends from there.

COACH: Has the Brian's Song" story ever ended for you?

SAYERS: Not really, and I don't think it ever will. When I go out, I always get, "Gale, I didn't see you play, but I saw 'Brian's Song,"' or "I named my son Brian (or Gale) because of the movie, or It was the only movie I ever cried at."

I don't think two weeks go by without someone mentioning that they loved the movie. But I'd have remained a close friend even if there hadn't been a movie. I'd never have forgotten Brian.

COACH: Do you still keep in touch with the Piccolo family?

SAYERS: I do. Joy, Brian's wife, still lives in Chicago and I see her. They had three kids and they're all grown up now.

COACH: You're 100% right in what you said about your shyness in the first version of "Brian's Song." It was ancient history by then.

SAYERS: May I ask an impertinent question: How do you know that?

COACH: Allow us to answer that question with another question: Where were you in the spring of 1967?

SAYERS: Probably in a lot of places. But I don't recall anywhere special.

COACH: We do. You spent six days in Puerto Rico, along with 11 other NFL all-stars, making a how-to-play-football movie for kids.

SAYERS: How would you know all that?

COACH: Because we directed the film. It was sponsored by an insurance company and it turned out great! And of course you're not going to remember that you invited me to dinner after we completed the film and that I spent most of the evening interviewing you for an editorial I was going to write in Scholastic Coach. You and your wife were wonderful hosts and let me assure you that your shyness never stopped you from rushing for 1,231 yards and running back 23 kickoffs for 718 yards.

SAYERS: That was in 1966, a very good year.
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Title Annotation:Gale Sayers
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Previous Article:ABCA/Rawlings Player of the Year.
Next Article:Coaches' Corner.

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