Pitchin with Pritch: Nebraska loses two of its greats

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In the last couple of weeks, Nebraska has had two great athlete’s pass away.  Gale Sayers, Hall of Fame football player and Bob Gibson, Hall of Fame Baseball player.

Sayers, who was born in Wichita, Kansas, grew up in Omaha and was an outstanding high school player. 

He went back to Kansas to play for KU upon graduation from high school. His college career was great and he became known as the Kansas Comet for his college play. 

Sayers was a two-time All-American inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was drafted fourth in the 1965 professional draft by the Chicago Bears. 

He tied one NFL record with six touchdowns in a game and set another with 22 touchdowns in his first season: 14 rushing, six receiving, one punt and one kickoff return.

Sayers was a unanimous choice for offensive Rookie of the Year. Sayers followed that up with being named an All-Pro during the first five years of his pro career. 

As good as he was, he played on a handful of poor to just plain bad Bear’s teams and never played in a postseason game. 

He played in only 68 total games and just two in each of his last two seasons, trying to overcome knee injuries. 

In 1977, at the age of 34, Sayers became the youngest player inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

If you want to see a great film featuring the career of Gale Sayers, find “Brian’s Song” which is a movie about the friendship of Sayers and teammate Brian Piccolo. 

They became roommates and the first interracial roommates on pro teams. Remember this was the ’60s and things were a little different at that time. 

Piccolo ended up having cancer and Sayers became a very close friend taking care of all he could for Piccolo up until the cancer won and Piccolo passed away at age 26.

Sayers was more than just a good football player.

Another Nebraska great

Bob Gibson was as impressive playing baseball as Sayers was in football. 

Gibson won both the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award and the Cy Young Award in 1968. 

He won 22 games, struck out 268 batters, pitched 13 shutouts, and posted an earned run average of 1.12. That’s still the lowest since the advent of the lively ball in 1920 and the fourth-lowest in major league history. 

Gibson threw 56 career shutouts and captured another Cy Young Award in 1970. 

He was an eight-time All-Star, won a Gold Glove award for fielding nine times and pitched a no-hitter against the Pirates in 1971. 

He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility. 

He was considered as competitive as anyone who ever played the game. It was mentioned that one time a sports writer asked him if he was always this competitive in everything. 

Gibson replied that he had played 700 games of Tick-Tack-Toe with one of his younger daughters and she had never won even one of them yet!

As good and positive as it is talking and reading about Gibson and Sayers, I also watched The Broncos and the Jets play last Thursday night. It might have been the worst football game I have ever watched. 

If you are a fan of sloppy, disoriented, undisciplined football then watching this game filled all of your fantasies. The Broncos just made fewer mistakes than the Jets.

 The Jets are 0-4 and looking like arguably the worst team in football on a weekly basis. They had some of the dumbest penalties at the worst time in a game and more of them than a professional team should have, hands down. If it continues, they might have a chance for a good draft choice.

Another surprise was Sunday night when the Heat beat the Lakers after losing the first two games in the championship series by not looking like they belonged there. I was sure that everyone that bet on a sweep by the Lakers were going to be collecting from the betting houses. 

Well, it won’t be sweep and maybe the win will give the Heat some momentum in the games to come.


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