In 1965, when Gail Sayers came to the Chicago Bears to star as their running back, he became the most sensational rookie in the history of the National Football League. He scored more touchdowns than any other grid freshman ever achieved. But early in his first season in pro football, when the Bears met the world champion Green Bay Packers, the spectacular Gail Sayers was taught a quick lesson in humility that almost frightened him to death.
He took a pitchout and confidently headed towards Willie Davis, the Packers’ All-Pro defensive end. Out of the corner of his eye he could see him shaking off the Chicago blockers, and when Sayers tried to turn the corner and go upfield, the Packers’ mighty linebacker Ray Nitschke barreled in alongside of Willie Davis. Rookie Sayers hit them, and the next thing he knew he was actually about four feet off the ground, with Willie Davis holding his left leg and Nitschke his right leg. Then he heard Davis say joyfully:
“Okay, Ray, make a wish, baby!”