Every time Barry Sanders ran the football, whether it was for two yards, 20 yards or 80 yards, his left tackle Lomas Brown sprinted down the field to help pick him up.
That’s the respect Brown had for the most creative running back in history.
“That man worked so hard and ran the ball so well that I think I at least owed him that,” Brown said. “I had to at least give him that respect.”
Even in the 1990s, when the Lions actually won games and made the playoffs, there was Lions fatigue amongst fans. People talked back then about being Lions free. Many said they did not go to the dome to see the Lions, but they still packed the Pontiac Silverdome to see Barry run. That is the respect fans had for Barry. They put their money on the line to see this man play.
Barry Sanders Statue Unveiling
On Sept 16, the day before the home opener against Seattle the Lions will give Barry the ultimate show of respect by unveiling a Sanders statue — the only one at Ford Field — during a non-public ceremony outside Gate B. It is well-deserved and long overdue.
“It’s a tremendous, tremendous honor,” Sanders said after Detroit wrapped up a joint practice with the New York Giants earlier this week. He added:
I may be the first (with a statue). I don’t think I’ll be the last, I’m not sure. But yeah, just thinking about sort of my journey to Detroit, winning the Heisman Trophy and coming here and wanting to change the narrative about the team at that time, you know? I think the slogan was “Restore the Roar,” is what it was. There was a new coach, and really just for me, it was about taking care of business on the field. I don’t remember — at some point after I retired, the conversation started about a statue. You know how these things (go). All the right people have to sign off on it. So it’s beyond anything I had planned, but certainly excited to just be a part of it, and the buildup has been pretty neat.
Now maybe this will give the Pistons and Red Wings a kick in the pants. How come there is no Steve Yzerman statue at Little Caesars Arena? How come there is no Nick Lidstrom? Or Sergei Fedorov? On the Pistons side an Isiah Thomas statue, was rumored to happen, but I’ve been told that has been put on hold mostly because the Pistons do not own the arena and are simply a tenant.
Yzerman should be next in line, but is so humble he probably is holding up his own statue ceremony. He should be next in line. He was the captain for many years, helping the Wings to four Stanley Cup titles, and he is trying to bring more as he rebuilds the Wings from the ground up as General Manager.
You heard that chant far more times than “Let’s go Lions.”
Lions coach Dan Campbell hit it dead on when he said of Sanders: “He is one most humble guys you could be around.”
It was no act. He did not want to be in the spotlight as a player. Sanders simply wanted to run the ball, win football games, and get home as quickly as possible. He retired in his prime second on the All-time rushing list behind Walter Payton (16,276). If ego played a bigger role in Sander’s life he would have stuck around and been the All-Time rushing king instead of the Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith (18,355) who limped and skipped to the record during the twi-light of his career.
Sanders (15,269) averaged 5.0 yards per carry while Smith averaged 4.2.
HC Dan Campbell on legendary RB Barry Sanders: "He is one of the most humble guys you could ever be around."— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) August 9, 2023
The #Lions will be unveiling a statue of the hall of fame RB on September 15th.
📸: Junfu Han (USA Today) pic.twitter.com/7t695LOZ4H
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Original Photo Credit: © Raj Mehta – USA TODAY Sports