Georgetown, KY – NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers – a Sixties star with the Chicago Bears before retiring at age 29 – will be the guest of renowned sports journalist Billy Reed for a special summer “Conversations with Champions” event at Georgetown College’s Thomas & King Conference Center on Friday, June 24 at 1 p.m.

Gale Sayers

The event is free, thanks in large part to The Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group, a partner of the College’s Academy for Character in Sport and a sponsor of An Evening with Hall of Famer Gale Sayers at the Lyric Theater in Lexington on Thursday. Sayers will be inducted into The Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame at the Lexington Opera House Friday evening.

Sayers will be the fifth recipient of the Blanton Collier Award, named for the former Cleveland Browns and University of Kentucky football coach who exemplified integrity in football and what they did after football. Now 68, Sayers is the CEO of Sayers40, Inc., which supplies information technology services to other companies from its base in suburban Chicago.

Sayers as a Chicago Bear

“No running back has ever played with more grace and style than Gale Sayers,” said Reed, a former sports editor at the Louisville Courier-Journal and contributor to Sports Illustrated. “Beyond that, he was all-pro as a human being, as we saw in the movie ‘Brian’s Song.’ He is a role model for the ages and we’re blessed to have him help the Academy for Character in Sport at Georgetown College.”

Read more in Mark Story’s Tuesday column in the Lexington Herald Leader about Sayers’ place in football history and about a friendship-for-the-ages that he (a black man) had with teammate Brian Piccolo (a white man) in that turbulent decade for civil rights – captured in the aforementioned “Brian’s Song.”

Billy Reed became the College’s second Executive Scholar-in-Residence last summer (former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins was and still is the first). His role includes heading up GC’s new Academy for Character in Sport, which was established to address the well-documented decline of character, integrity and ethics in sports and the media. Follow his blog at acs.georgetowncollege.edu

This past school year, Reed was host of “Conversations with Champions,” a series of fireside chats with sports celebrities in the College’s John L. Hill Chapel. Guests were:

Former University of Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton, who also coached basketball at Transylvania and Alabama and served as head of the NCAA rules committee; former University of Louisville and NBA basketball star Junior Bridgeman; “Madame Butterfly” Mary T. Meagher, the swimming star of the 1984 Olympics; sports marketing legend Jim Host, current chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority; NBC sportscaster Tom Hammond, host of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown and the network’s coverage of Olympic track and field, and ice skating; and Hall of Fame jockeys Pat Day and Chris McCarron.

These events were filmed for airing on Kentucky Educational Television. Here are the dates for the Day-McCarron conversation with all showings on KET-3 (their Kentucky network) unless otherwise indicated: July 21 at 9 p.m.; July 24 at 2 p.m. (KET); July 25 at 2 p.m.; July 28 at 7 p.m.; July 29 at 9 a.m. All times EDT.