Gale Sayers’ legendary, heartbreaking tribute to his cancer-stricken teammate Brian Piccolo was delivered 50 years ago last night. And it was forever immortalized in the greatest made-for-network-TV movie ever made, with Billy Dee Williams as Sayers and James Caan as Piccolo.
Back in a time when American males still believed in not showing emotion, long before “The Bachelorette” contestants were trying to talk a woman into helicopter sex by saying how “vulnerable I can be around you,” it was just acceptable to cry during “Brian’s Song.” Your manhood was called into question if you didn’t. In a time when the heroes were all tough, stoic men, astronauts and the Marlboro Man, race car drivers and Clint Eastwood characters, “Brian’s Song” reduced men to puddles. There were guys who didn’t shed a tear at their own mothers’ funerals sobbing like 2-year-olds at this speech and the [spoiler] Piccolo death scene. Find someone who’ll love you the way these men loved each other.