HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO….ME by The Sports Philosopher

December 13, 2010
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Dateline: 12-12-2010.   Eleven p.m.

       On December 12th, 1965, the great Gale Sayers—peerless running back for the Chicago Bears by way of the University of Kansas—scored six touchdowns in a single NFL game.

      That’s right.   Six.

      He was a rookie at the time.

....Gale Sayers….there was never anybody quite like him.

....Gale Sayers….there was never anybody quite like him.


      As you might expect, six touchdowns is the all-time NFL record for one game.   Two other guys have done it.   Amazingly.   But I don’t think it is careless Sports Philosopherish hyperbole to declare that no NFL player ever had a better day than Sayers did, against the San Francisco 49ers on that frigid December afternoon at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.     

      For one thing, it was a wet, sloppy, muddy field that day.   So naturally everyone figured it would be a sloppy, low-scoring game, along the lines of 10 to 3 or 7 to 6 or something.


      On the 2nd play of the game, Sayers took a little screen pass from Bears quarterback Rudy Bukich and weaved his way 80 yards for a touchdown.   That was only the beginning.   Later in the 1st quarter Sayers ran 21 yards for another touchdown, completely leaping over a defensive back at the goal line, spearing face-first into a sea of mud.   He scored on another short run of seven yards before halftime.

      In the 3rd quarter, football’s most exciting and electrifying player ever took a pitch-out and ran 50 yards for another score, leaving several 49er “tacklers” in his wake, strewn face down in the mud like so many tossed-aside breadcrumbs.   Another short 1-yard plunge made it five touchdowns.

      Sayers almost made it six TDs when he returned a punt about 40 yards late in the game but slipped and fell.   It was the only splotch on an otherwise perfect canvas.   In the 4th quarter, with Chicago way ahead, Bears coach George Halas put Sayers back in to return one last punt.   One last chance to get that record-tying 6th touchdown.   How many players in history could be allowed to return a punt from their own 15-yard-line with the expectation that they might score a touchdown on that play?  

      One.   Eighty-five yards later Sayers was in the end zone again.   The Bears scored twice more in garbage time, and Sayers would easily have broken his own record with a 7th touchdown if Halas had let him.   But Halas was a gruff old curmudgeon of a man, sort of an Ebenezer Scrooge meets Dick Cheney  type, and he refused to put him back in, despite the Wrigley crowd chanting “We want Sayers, we want Sayers!”    Oh well.

      Gale Sayers touched the ball only 14 times that day.   Yet he piled up a ridiculous 336 total all-purpose yards; 113 rushing yards on only nine carries, 89 yards on only two pass receptions, and 134 yards on only three punt returns.   No NFL other player has ever scored on a run, a punt return, and a pass reception each of over 50 yards in the same game.   The Bears squeaked out a 61-20 win.

      No football player will ever have a game like that again.

      December 12th, 1965 happened to be my tenth birthday.   I was ten, I was a Bears fan and I was a Sayers fan.   Therefore, I couldn’t help but believe that the “Kansas Comet” had scored those six touchdowns for me.

      I still feel that way.   It was one of the best birthday presents I ever got.

      Now it is 45 years later.   And it’s my birthday again.   As in 1965, today is a Sunday.   And today the Bears played another football game, also at home, this time at Chicago’s venerable Soldier’s Field.   Against football’s best team, the New England Patriots.

      Didn’t go so well.   The Patriots disposed of the Bears 36-7.   The score was 33-to-nothing at halftime.   The Chicago Bears—90 years young—had never trailed in a game by 33 points at halftime before.   Tom Brady carved up the Bears like a tender side of beef, throwing for over 360 yards in a virtual blizzard.   The Bears made four turnovers.   The Patriots made none.   This athletic “contest” was so lopsided that CBS switched to another game, a real game, early in the 3rd quarter.   Just as well.   I had dinner plans, and my stomach was starting to ache a bit.  

      I don’t mind it so much when the Bears lose any more.   Especially when it’s a blowout.   And especially when they lose to a great team.   That’s football.   Just wish it didn’t have to be on my birthday, that’s all.

      That’s the trouble with getting older.   Birthdays just aren’t what they used to be.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0025

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and unconditional lifelong lover of the Chicago Bears—even when they play like they did last week.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his best fiction work can be discovered by clicking the absurdly overlooked links below:






One Response to “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO….ME by The Sports Philosopher”

  1. Indeed! Happy Birthday to You!!! And Many More!!!!


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