Sayers, whose great Bears career was cut short by multiple knee injuries, said he can empathize with the superstar Bulls point guard, who was ruled out for the season after tearing the medial meniscus in his right knee in Portland on Friday.
"Hopefully it works out well for him, but it's going to be very, very difficult," Sayers, a Gold Coast resident, told DNAinfo Chicago during a phone interview from Las Vegas. "If his injury is bad, he better get ready because I just think it's going to be a tough, tough road."
Rose underwent surgery Monday and will need three to six months of rehab and recovery time, according to USA Today. The Simeon Career Academy graduate and Englewood native missed all of the 2012-13 regular season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the 2012 playoffs.
"It's going to be tough on him to get that knee back in shape," Sayers said. "He has to get his butt off the ground and get out there and work his butt off. That's what he has to do. Forget the rest of the team and the rest of that b.s. He needs to work out every day to get that knee in shape.
"I feel sorry for him that he's going to have go through those types of workouts."
Sayers' Hall of Fame career was derailed by numerous injuries, including a knee injury that required immediate surgery nine games into the 1968 season. Despite the setbacks, Sayers ran for 4,956 yards and scored 336 points during his career with the Bears from 1965-71.
He also was the MVP in three of the four Pro Bowls in which he played.
"I had six knee operations, and I came back off three of them," Sayers said.
Sayers said it's hard comparing Rose's circumstances to his because the NBA season, consisting of 82 regular-season games, is much longer than the 14-game regular seasons of his NFL days.
Sayers said he hoped "Rose can come back and play the way that he played when he played the game at a great level."
"God gave me a gift to go out and play football, and God has given him the same gift to play basketball," Sayers said. "You can get your knee back in shape, or you can screw around. If he screws around, he's not going to play anymore.
"I hope that he can get his knee in shape so he can go out there and play because he's a great player, no question about it."