Hall of Fame RB Sayers critical of Bears' moves in recent years

OMAHA, Neb. -- One of the greatest Chicago Bears of all time isn't happy with the team's current state of affairs.

Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers took aim at coach Lovie Smith, quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Brian Urlacher and personnel moves that left the Bears without a pick until the third round of last month's NFL draft.

"Cutler hasn't done the job," Sayers said Tuesday. "Urlacher, I don't know how good he's going to be coming back. He's 33 years old. They need a couple wide receivers, a couple defensive backs. They haven't done a good job.

"If Lovie doesn't do it this year, I think he's gone. He had a good team the Super Bowl year. Nothing came together for him the last couple years."

Sayers, 66, was back in his hometown as the featured speaker at a booster banquet for Boys Town. He also met with students at the nationally acclaimed home for troubled youth.

Sayers is chairman and CEO of Sayers Inc., a computer business headquartered in Vernon Hills, Ill. He also works in athletic fundraising at the University of Kansas, his alma mater, and is involved in a number of charitable causes in the Chicago area.

Other than a few public appearance he makes on behalf of the Bears, Sayers said, he has little contact with the team these days.

"I go to every game I can," he said. "Yes, I do live and die with them."

So Sayers knows well that the Bears lost Urlacher to a season-ending injury in last year's opener at Green Bay -- a big loss for a team that hoped to contend in the NFC.

The Bears, who traded quarterback Kyle Orton and 2009 and 2010 first-round picks to the Denver Broncos for Cutler, finished 7-9 in their new quarterback's first season in Chicago and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Bears have overhauled their coaching staff -- keeping Smith -- and signed free-agent defensive end Julius Peppers to a six-year deal.

Sayers arguably was the most explosive offensive player in the NFL in the late 1960s. He retired from football in 1971 after the second of two devastating knee injuries, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility (1977).

Sayers, who scored six touchdowns and gained 336 all-purpose yards during a 1965 game against the San Francisco 49ers, is best known for his speed and elusiveness. He was one of the first running backs to return punts and kicks.

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"I had some good moves and I used them very well," Sayers said. "The person who reminds me of myself is Barry Sanders. We both used the whole field."

Sayers shook his head when reminded that some pundits have compared New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush to him.

"You can't compare that, because he gets hurt too much," Sayers said. "He's a fine young man. He's a little light. He's not a player who's going to carry 25 times a game. He'll get five carries, catch three passes and run back a couple punts."

Sayers pointed out that he made $50,000 in his final NFL season and a total of $275,000 over his entire career. He said he would like to be playing today.

"You know why? Because of the money," Sayers said. "I wouldn't change my game. I probably would be just as good because I would be on AstroTurf. The money, that's the key right now. Everybody is making so much. A person snapping the football is making a million dollars."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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