Arguably, there hasn’t been any better selection in the history of the Detroit Lions draft than Barry Sanders. The team got lucky to snap Sanders up, and the moment it happened became one for the history books for the team.
For a generation of fans, though, the excitement over Sanders is limited to video clips since many never got to experience his wizardry live. So too, these fans did not get to experience the moment the team was able to snag the former Heisman Trophy winner and would-be Hall of Famer in the NFL Draft.
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Recently, a look at the moment the Lions brought Sanders into the fold was presented, and it’s a classic clip with ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper breaking down the selection and filling fans in on what Sanders was good at while in college.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 4, 2021
Quickness, elusiveness and vision were some of the buzzwords to describe Sanders, and also instinctive. Kiper predicted that Sanders would generate excitement with the Lions and rush for 1,500 yards in his rookie year. Incidentally enough, Sanders rushed for 1,470 yards his first year and was a five-time 1,500 yard rusher in the NFL. Safe to say Kiper nailed this projection and analysis.
It’s neat to see this blast from the past just ahead of the Lions welcoming a new member to the team.
Sanders’ Career Stats
To see Sanders run the ball for Lions fans through the years was to believe given what he was able to do with the team on the field. Sanders routinely had the quickness and deft ability to break plenty of ankles on the football field and remains one of the greatest highlights in the game fans love watching even years after his retirement. Athleticism is something that came naturally to Sanders, something that was constantly proved with every big play he turned in.
With the Lions, Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns. He was routinely thought of as the best running back in the league, and would have shattered plenty of NFL rushing records had he decided to keep playing. Sanders, however, walked away from the game in 1999 on the eve of training camp, which stunned the Lions and all of their fans. The parties then went through a frustrating split for multiple years, based mostly upon the fact that the franchise made him pay back part of his contract amid retirement. It is a situation not unlike what has been happening with Calvin Johnson up until recently.
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Sanders Will Be a Lions Legend Forever
Since, time has healed all wounds and Sanders has patched things up with the Lions and has become engaged in their alumni group. He also makes several visits a year to games the team is playing in, and was recently named to Detroit’s All-Century team, which is a major feather in his cap given what he was able to do as a team leader and a dominating force in the franchise.
As a result of his early retirement, Sanders maintains his health and vitality and looks phenomenal. It’s not a stretch to say that he could possibly still grind out some tough yards in the league at this point in time.
Sanders has been a fantastic ambassador for the Lions since the moment he was drafted. That was a moment that began about this time of year back in 1989.
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