For those who never quite got Barry Sanders during his time with the Lions, a recent interview with his hometown newspaper, the Wichita Eagle . . . won't do anything to clear up the confusion.
The Kansas paper recently named Sanders No. 1 on its list of "Wichita's Top 100 Athletes." (No. 2 was former running star Jim Ryun.)
Sanders told Eagle reporter Bob Lutz he knows NFL fans have questions about his sudden retirement from the Lions before training camp in 1999. He said he's not ready to talk about the decision, but . . .
"I think that will change at some point," Sanders said. "I don't know exactly when, really. The most important thing, really, is the 10 years I played. It's pretty well documented. And even if I never said anything else, I think if you really try hard enough it's not that hard to get a sense of who I am."
As for Lions fans, Sanders said: "In a certain sense, I addressed them personally for 10 years of playing. They got a chance to see who I was and what I'm about. A lot of people got a chance to understand me and a lot of people probably still don't. There's a good chance they never will."
I've always said there was more to the Barry Sanders retirement than we know.
It was just way, WAY too weird.
With the All-Time rushing record a virtual guaranteed lock.
I never believed that stuff about not wanting to break Walter's record while Walter was still alive.
And I don't really think it had all that much to do with the Lions.
Or, if it did, a trade could have been done.
There's still a story here waiting to be told.
And it'll come out some day.
Just hope it doesn't make me lose respect for one of my all-time favorite players.
Whatever it is.
Ok, as a self-proclaimed expert on Barry, this is what I think.
He did not care about records. That was obvious since he TOLD Wayne Fontes to sit him in the second half of the last game in the season, when he was 10 yards away from the rushing title that went to Christian Okeye that year.
He's not too smart. I doubt he ever went to a class at OK State. His father always did all the talking for him, I believe, because Barry didn't want to embarrass himself in front of the media. The article above almost proves that. He doesn't really say anything in it.
He had no love for the game. He said when he retired that he was just tired of playing football. He never celebrated, never complained, and never self-promoted himself. That leads me to believe that he really didn't care.
I love Barry, he was the only bright spot for 10 years of Lions futility. They always had a chance with him in the game. I just think he's a little mentally underdeveloped, and figured he had enough money to live for the rest of his life the way he wants, secluded and away from any attention. Maybe he has a social disorder a la Ricky Williams.
Good one, Petey.
At first, of course, I was shocked.
Not MY Barry!
But then. Hmmmmmmmm. I don't know.
A lot of good points there. Sure made me think.
That thing about his father speaking for him always
did kinda bug me.
And. In the end. How well do we ever really know
For me, Barry Sanders was the most exciting 6 seconds in sports.
And the end was so abrupt.
Weird then. Weird now.