Adds quote from NFL commissioner, background on Sayers
Sept 23 (Reuters) - Gale Sayers, the former Chicago Bears running back whose graceful moves earned him Hall of Fame honors and whose bond with a dying teammate was chronicled in the movie "Brian's Song," died on Wednesday at age 77, the National Football League said.
While playing only seven seasons in a career cut short by injury, Sayers earned five all-NFL selections as he acccumulated 4,956 rushing yards from 1965 to 1971.
He was also known for being portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the 1971 film that told the story of his relationship with fellow Bears running back Brian Piccolo, played by James Caan. Piccolo died of cancer in 1970 at age 26.
"Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game's most exciting players," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
((Peter.Szekely@thomsonreuters.com; (646) 223-5302; Reuters Messaging: @peszeke))
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