Former NFL great, Gale Sayers has withdrawn a lawsuit filed against the NFL with allegations that memory-loss and headaches were a direct result of the concussions he suffered while a NFL player. His lawyer said he would not have filed a lawsuit without his client’s permission. I am not surprised if he had second thoughts that the lawsuit may have opened a Pandora’s box of negative speculations about Sayers’ IT enterprise, Sayers40
When I spoke to Sayers, it was immediately apparent, he operates on a high level with knowledge, laser-focus and strategy. He plays the business game like the pro he is. Chicago Bears fans think they may know Sayers because he was a Rookie of the Year, a superstar running back for the Chicago Bears or because he is a dual Hall of Famer for both College Football and Pro Football or for, Brian’s Song, a five-Emmy winning tearjerker about his friendship with Bears teammate, the late Brian Piccoli.
But what many people do not know about him, is Sayers has led Sayers40 since 1982. It ranks number 10 on Crain’s Chicago Business List of the 25 Largest Minority-Owned Firms and number 258 on Crain’s List of Largest Privately Held Companies. Sayers is the President of Sayers40, an IT company with $92 million in annual revenue and 150 employees worldwide.
Sayers40 offers services ranging from computer installation to consulting services, such as operating system migration and network design. Other services include technical training, voice and data cabling, and financing. Their clients include Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems.
The irony is even though he is a successful business owner and NFL legend, his global brand is the movie, Brian’s Song. He admits, he has seen the film over 50 times and prefers the Billy Dee Williams and James Caan version because “it really captured our friendship.”
“It’s a blessing people know me from the movie.”
Born in Wichita, Kansas, raised in Nicodemus, Kansas (an historical town founded during Reconstruction by African-Americans) where schooldays were spent in a one room schoolhouse, to a family move to Omaha where he played midget football with his two brothers and then to Lawrenceville and a stellar running back career at the University of Kansas and then a first round draft pick to the Chicago Bears.
Sayers shared that he learned a lot about life on many levels during his days as an athlete. He worked hard and in many cases worked through intense pain in order to achieve a goal.
After leaving football in 1971, Sayers returned to University of Kansas where he completed a Master’s in Educational Administration, moved back to Chicago where he changed direction from education to business. At the time, the computer business was trending with enormous opportunities. Sayers set out to gain more experience in computers and accepted an opportunity to work at Paine Webber. He had to go to New York for eight weeks to take the Series 7 preparation course and exam for his stockbroker license. He would be only one of two Blacks in the entire class and ‘passed the Series 7 with flying colors’.
When Sayers returned to Chicago, Coach Halas told him how proud he was of him. Two weeks later, Halas gave Sayers the Chicago Bears business!
He leads Sayers40 with clarity of core values when he hires. His wife, Ardythe has played a significant role in the success of his business endeavors.
When asked what he looks for when he hires, Sayers replied, “A new hire must have a college degree and core values which include a strong work ethic,” Sayers speaks adamantly.
Sayers also acknowledges the synergy between sports and business, especially, golf. “The game of golf can be a major player in business as relationships and ties are built on the golf course. It can be a real door-opener,” Sayers says of golf, sports and business. He has initiated and closed deals on the golf course.
Annette Cantino, CEO of QualCare agrees in a New York Times article: Mixing Golf & Ravioli with Business. Cantino recognized early on that to ‘build a business, it was going to be about building relationships’. So what’s the magic in those 18 holes? Spending a morning or afternoon on the greens is an investment. It is an undisputed fact that business ties are built during golf games. Gale Sayers will tell you business is about relationships.