May 26, 2019

Al Silverman, Writer Behind ‘Brian’s Song,’ Is Dead at 92

Al Silverman, a magazine editor and publishing executive who collaborated with the Chicago Bears halfback Gale Sayers on an autobiography that was adapted into “Brian’s Song,” the popular 1971 television movie about the friendship between Mr. Sayers and his dying teammate, Brian Piccolo, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 92.

His son Brian confirmed the death.

In 1969, when he began his conversations with Mr. Sayers, Mr. Silverman was well known in sports publishing. He had been a prolific freelance writer in the 1950s for various magazines, including Sport, a popular monthly, which hired him as its editor in chief in 1960, and where he was still working. He had also written books about, or with, sports figures like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Frank Robinson.

In Mr. Sayers, who was 26, Mr. Silverman had a sensational young player as a subject: In his first three seasons, beginning in 1965, his speed and elusiveness had made him a superstar. But an injury to his right knee during a game in 1968 imperiled his career; he was still recovering when he began to tell his life story to Mr. Silverman, who wrote about his regimen of physical rehabilitation for Sport.

Their book, “I Am Third” (1970), contained one chapter called “Pick,” about his friendship with Mr. Piccolo, who died of lung cancer in 1970. (The book’s title refers to a sign Mr. Sayers had seen on his college track coach’s desk: “The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.”)

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