On Sunday, after throwing a 61-yard touchdown pass as time expired to win a playoff game propelling his team into the NFC championship game, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum declared it was only the third-best moment of his life – the first being dedicating his life to Jesus:
“It’s probably going to go down as the third best moment of my life behind giving my life to Jesus Christ and marrying my wife.”
But, it was Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back, Gale Sayers, who made the sentiment famous 48 years earlier, in his 1970 book, “I Am Third.”
As BarnesAndNoble.com explains, Sayers says in his book that the title is based on his life’s motto, that his God and his friends take priority over himself:
“I Am Third is the memoir of Gale Sayers, one of the best running backs in the history of the NCAA and pro football. It is also the story of his friendship with Brian Piccolo. Known also as a community leader and great friend to all, Sayers's credo is, ‘The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.’"
Sayers’ book went on to become the inspiration for the movie, “Brian’s Song,” which chronicled his close relationship with teammate Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer.
Many other poignant, though less famous, quotes attributed to Sayers also speak to his values:
- “Athletes as role models and heroes is a hoax, a sick hoax. The men and women who are fighting in Iraq, they are the true heroes.”
- “I don't care to be remembered as the man who scored six touchdowns in a game. I want to be remembered as a winner in life.”
- “Our young people look up to us. Let us not let them down. Our young people need us. Saving them will make heroes of us all.”