Give blood, save a life, meet a Bear

Former Chicago Bears cornerback Shaun Gayle (right) autographs a football for Jacob Trapp, 11, of DeKalb at DeKalb High School on Thursday, June 14.
Former Chicago Bears cornerback Shaun Gayle (right) autographs a football for Jacob Trapp, 11, of DeKalb at DeKalb High School on Thursday, June 14.

DeKALB – A quarter of a century later, it is still known as “the punt,” one of the most famous plays in Chicago Bears history.

Midway through the first quarter of the 1986 playoff game at Soldier Field, Giants’ punter Sean Landeta dropped back to punt deep in his own end zone. Whether a gust of wind caught the ball, as he later claimed, or it simply went off the side of his foot, the punt only traveled five yards. Scooping it up, Bears’ cornerback Shaun Gayle ran it in for the shortest punt return for a touchdown in NFL history.

The Bears went on to win both that game and eventually the Super Bowl, the only one in franchise history.

“I get asked about that all the time,” Gayle laughed. “When Devin Hester, who wears the same number I did, returned a punt for the longest touchdown, the hall of fame wanted his shoes. I called them to see if they wanted my shoes, but they didn’t. My record will never be broken.”

Gayle was at DeKalb High School last week signing autographs and promoting the ‘85 Champs’ Blood Drive, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 23 at DHS.

According to a press release from Life Source, co-sponsor of the event, donors must be at least 17 years of age, or 16 with parental permission, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health.

Life Source Director Andrew McElroy said there will be plenty of workers on hand, so it should take only about 35 minutes to give blood.

“Every time you see a crash or an accident, there’s somebody who’s going to need blood,” McElroy said.

DHS Athletic Director Dan Jones said everyone who donates will be given a voucher that will allow a young person between the ages of 7 and 18 to attend the “Gridiron Glory” football camp on July 20 at DHS. Members of the 1985 Super Bowl Bears will conduct the non-contact camp, offering advice on techniques in “an unprecedented football camp experience.” Players aged 7-12 will meet in the morning and 13- to 18-year-olds in the afternoon.

There is a limit of 400 participants. The voucher is the only way to attend the camp, which parents can view from the stands. There will also be an autograph session.

DeKalb is one of four sites where the blood drives and the camps will be conducted throughout northern Illinois this summer. All equipment will be provided.

“The idea was to combine the blood drive with the football camp,” Gayle  said. This is the third year for the camp, but the first time it has been incorporated with the blood drive, he said.

Besides himself, Gayle said former Bears who are expected to participate in the DeKalb camp are Otis Wilson, Steve Fuller, Dennis Gentry, Tim Wrightman and Tyrone Keys.

To register for the blood drive, call 877-543-3768 or go to

For more information, call Jones at 815-754-2116.

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