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True Strength

Do you remember Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo, the star backs for the Chicago Bears? One was a black man; one was a white man. They created quite a sensation back in the days that they were best-known, because they were the first black and white men to room together in professional football.

Reporters used to ask them about that all the time, and they would always tease one another in their answers. A reporter would say, "Do you mind living with him?" and Piccolo would answer, "Not if he doesn't use the bathroom." Or a reporter would say, "What do you two fellows talk about?" and Sayers would respond, "Oh, just the usual racist talk." They had a lot of kidding remarks they made toward one another, but there was a deep, deep affection between them.

Then Brian Piccolo was cut down with cancer and began to spend more time in the hospital than he did on the football field. The two men had planned to go with their wives to New York to the Professional Football Writers Association banquet, where Sayers was to be presented the George S. Halas Award as the most courageous professional football player in that year. But Piccolo, because of the oncoming advance of the disease, was unable to go.

When the moment came for Gayle Sayers to receive the award, this star running back stepped to the microphone and with the tears unashamedly rolling down his cheeks said, "You flatter me by giving me this award. But I tell you here and now that I accept it for Brian Piccolo. Brian Piccolo is the man of courage who should receive the award. I love Brian Piccolo, and I'd like you to love him, too. Tonight when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him."

A strong man saying of another strong man, "I love Brian," and weeping as he said it. But is that weakness?

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