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I Am Third: The Inspiration for Brian's Song

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  606 ratings  ·  45 reviews
"Gale Sayers' book I Am Third, with Al Silverman, is a stirring, painfully honest account of his struggle to become the greatest running back in history and that agonizing moment between immortality and becoming a cripple." --The New York Times Book Review
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1970)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  606 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this autobiography and memoir when I was in high school. I had seen the movie, Brian's Song, and as I often do with impactful movies, I sought out the book upon which the movie was based.

The book was even more powerful than the movie. It was an inspiring account, partly of Gale Sayers, a Hall of Fame football player for the Chicago Bears, but more about his relationship with his friend and teammate, Brian Piccolo. That friendship becomes deeper and stronger as Piccolo helps Sayers
Steven Peterson
I've been a Chicago Bears fan since the 1950s. I remember in 1st grade talking "knowledgeably" about Ed Brown to Harlon Hill (the truth is I knew nothing much about football then). Over the decades, I have continued to root for the Bears. One of those great moments for me was the draft before the 1965 season--when the Bears snagged both Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.

This book focuses on a number of different issues, from the knee injury that Sayers suffered in 1968, as he was experincing a monster
Martin Bihl
I've had this book since i was ten years old and never finished it until now, although i grew up a bears fan. as a result, i had this weird paradox - i always think of sayers as being much older than me, and yet this book was written when he was 27 - nearly twenty years younger than me. (i know, none of this is valuable to you as a review. so be it)

on the one hand, this book reminds you of what a remarkable running back sayers was, and really makes you wish there was video of sayers so you could
Diane Schneider
May 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
The book's greatest strength and greatest weakness are that you can tell that Gale Sayers really wrote this book. I think it's great that he was the true author. Today, his book would almost certainly have a ghost writer. However, as he says himself, English was never his best subject. There is some lovely information about his life, but to find it the reader has to sift through pages of recaps of football games that Sayers has played in, which would likely be more interesting to someone more at ...more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read it because I love the movie "Brian's Song" Just a chapter was really about Brian and his friendship with him. The rest was about his football career.
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childhood-reads
I read this when I was a kid. I'm not a big sports fan, but the whole story has really stuck with me. I took Brian Piccolo's adage to heart: God is first, my family is second, and I am third.
James Carter
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked up I Am Third after seeing Brian's Song so many times.

Although the book covers the filmed story in only twenty pages, it's mostly about who Gale Sayers is and how he grew up. Truly, he was one of the greatest players in the history of pro football. Most of I Am Third is interesting and deeply personal. However, when Gale talks about his football achievements or what he did on the field, it's boring to read. So are the last 100 pages or so when he rambles on about different topics inclu
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Not fascinating, but still pretty good.
Scott  Breslove
An interesting, but very dated, read about a guy who I didn't know much about. A good look into football at the time.
Luke Nauman
May 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am third by Gale sayers was just another average book to me. This book lacked the attention getters that i thought it would have. Considering i’m a fan of football i thought i would really like this book but i thought at too many times in the book the story was more or less just dragging on instead of keeping me interested. The story begins with a flashback revisiting his past.This book is still an inspiring book to all athletes because of all the struggles he had to face throughout his long j ...more
Oct 23, 2015 added it
Jake Bisaillon
Issues in Non-Fiction
20 October 2015
I Am Third by Gale Sayers
My IRB is an autobiography of Gale Sayers life. Gale Sayers was a tailback for the Chicago Bears. He played seven years in the NFL from 1965-1971. Out of all his seasons he only completed a full season three times. Yet he is still considered one of the best running backs in NFL history. He wrote this book with one year left in his career and it is about his life up to that point in his career.
There are three pa
Oct 23, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-reviews
I am third
author Gale sayers with Al siver man pages 240.

book intended for sports fans.

main issue Gale sayers triel he had to go through to get to the Nfl and his freind brian picalo who is diagnosed with cancer.

setting chicago where he plays for the chicago bears and where he lives.

description he is shy quiet small sometimes freindly if you get to know him African american small built athletic.

this book is about Gale sayers and his triels he has to go throught to get to the Nfl and when he get
Tyler Verdi
This autobiography by one of the greatest Chicago Bears football players ever was an interesting insight into the life of a black man growing up in poverty and becoming a successful man. He really digs into his feelings for football, his wife, and his friends. One example would be his retelling of his relationship with Brian Piccolo, a teammate and friend. Brian died after fighting a cancer for some time. Gale, knowing that this man was brave and strong and pure, gave a huge award, the Player of ...more
David Ward
I Am Third by Gale Sayers (Viking Press 1970) (Biography). This is the book which was made into a TV movie which made every male in America bawl like a baby. Gale Sayers was a running back in the 1960's for the NFL's Chicago Bears. He was the best in the game, and he had a chance to become one of the all time best players. In Chicago, he became best friends and roommates with teammate Brian Piccolo who was also a Bears running back and a graduate of Wake Forest University. This is the story of t ...more
I was too young to understand the writing skills or not but some things of the book stuck with me over the years, so there must be something to it.

One was "How's Your Marlin?" Where he was so frustrated with people asking "How is your knee?". He went on a fishing trip and caught a marlin and his teammates turned "How is your knee?" into "How is your marlin?" and it was funny to him instead of irritating.

The other was the dedication he put in to get back. He worked out 6 days a week and never m
Oct 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I AM Third is a nonfiction novel by Gale Sayers and Bill Cosby (introduction).This book is about the life of Gale Sayers who his parents died when he was a little kid from cancer.During his teen years,Gale was playing football,but made his team lose almost a streak of luck.Then he was getting tough times when the producer of Brian's Song quit and his wife was at a risk of fatal from after birth to a baby boy.However things went well after he apologized to the entire town.
The story's moral is w
Steven Peterson
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago, when it first came out. Background and context for my interest: I have been a Chicago Bears' fan since elementary school; Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus, on the same team at the same time, are among my favorite Bears of all time; the story of Brian Piccolo was poignant as I followed his illness and death so long ago.

This book does a nice job showing how Sayers moved from childhood and challenges to becoming a nationally known college football player to joining the C
Ms. Mielke's Class Make sure you post how your sheets tell you to!!!!
I am Third is a very good book. I would recommend it to anyone who likes sports or in particular football. The struggles he had during this book was very hard for him but he always made it through them. My favorite part of this book is how him and his family were starting to become an actual family. My least favorite part was when he lost one of his best friends.SS

I am third was a very good book. The best part in the book is when it only took Gale a year to rehabilitate his knee.I would recomme
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I don't know, I was really looking forward to reading this. However I just could not get into it. I am not one to no finish I book so I struggled though this one. I will admit there was many times that I wanted to put this book down and not pick it back up. Maybe it was not what i expected, or maybe it was because I felt like things have changed so much since then. The injury that he was so upset about is coming in college kids and they still make it to the pros with today's health care. I still ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
I picked this book up eagerly since I am a Bears fan and have seen it on some "best sports books" list. Unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations. Is a free flowing book that reads like a journal but without any personality or any revealing. It never really grabs you and pulls you in, so I didn't feel compelled to finish it. Too many needless details are included too. There only so much about yards gained and touchdowns scored before I lose interest. Do yourself a favor and hunt down o ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In the book, I am Third, the main character Gale Sayers is a young man trying to find a way to become a pro football player. As he goes through high school and college he becomes a top running back who is still trying to find himself. Another half of the story is when he is a pro football player who has to deal with the hardships of injuries and a death of his best friend and teammate while still trying to balance his marriage out. Overall the book was really fun to read and was a little bit in ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is the football team summer reading, and I have volunteered to introduce it to them next Friday. I am on chapter five, going at a snail's pace, pausing to clean the toilets and empty the litterbox and preferring those activities to returning to the book. I would like to rename it "I Am Turd." I will do the best I can with what is good in the book-- the excellent description of workouts in a Chicago gym. Don't read it.
Alison Britton
May 07, 2009 rated it liked it
This was a good book. It didn't keep me to interested. Gale Sayers wrote the book about his life through his football career from high school to the pro's with the Chicago Bears. The main point of the book was how he puts himself third in life, God is first and his family and friends are second. It didn't really get to the point until the last two chapters. When I got to the last to chapters it was inspiring and uplifting.
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: any Gale Sayer fans
Recommended to Jeremy by: another christmas gift
Again a biography which arent my favorite. Another book where someone tells their life story in a way that is supposed to validate there reasons for writing a story about themselves. Gale Sayers is a pretty special guy and this book really brought it out. From his very poor and deprived childhood and the death of his NFL teammate it really did add alot of depth to his charactor especially because he is known by so many as one of the best running back the Bears ever had.
It was interesting to hear Sayers experience growing up, but the "I Am Third" mentality plays a small role in the overall theme of the autobiography. Because of the movie Brian's Song, I think I was expecting more development with regard to principles of life. Overall, this book was more football statistics that I care to know about.
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My rating probably is not completely fair, as I love the movie "Brian's Song" and thought this would be more like the film. Only a chapter or two inspired the movie - the rest was the story of Sayers' life.
Debbie Frizzi
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it many times over.
Winter Sophia Rose
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Insightful Sports Hero!
Sean Gray
Nov 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone.
This book is a touching book about professional football players. As touching as that doesn't sound, you'd be suprised. Brian, get's cancer. And effects Gayles life in a way you wouldn't believe.
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding book on friendship and the human spirt.
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“The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.” 1 likes
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