Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flashback Friday: Barry Sanders

Every Friday during the season, we're going to take a trip down memory lane to give props to great moments and/or great players of the NFL's past. This week, in light of the Lions first 3-0 start since 1980, a tribute to the Detroit Lions of yesteryear seems appropriate. Many can only remember the Lions as the laughingstock of football, but there have been some good times in Detroit, particularly in the 90's when Mr. Barry Sanders carried the rock on a regular basis for the Lions.

Sanders was one of a kind: He was improvisational. He was electric. He could go from 0 to 60 in a flash, then slam the brakes to make a herd of hungry defenders freeze in their tracks before taking off unmolested on another gallop to paydirt.

Oh, and he could juke. He'd hit the hole, approach a defender, then throw a series of dizzying fakes to confuse defenders while taking off in whichever direction he chose. It never seemed to fail. The only way to tackle Sanders was to gang tackle him or get him while he was taking the exchange from the QB.

Barry Sanders was a freak of nature. A real life phenom. There was nobody in the history of the game that was more befuddling to defenders; nobody that was more difficult to tackle one-on-one; and nobody that was better at bringing the Lions faithful their feet.

His surprise retirement in 1999 drove a steak through the heart of all Lions fans, and the franchise hasn't been the same since. Now that the Lions are finally showing signs of life again, maybe the memories of how great Sanders was, and how devastating it was when he left without a warning, won't be so bitter anymore.

Here is just a small sample of Sander's remarkable achievements in the NFL:

1. 5 1,500 yard seasons (most ever).
2. 25 150-plus yard games (most ever).
3. 15 career touchdown runs of 50-yards or more (most ever).
4. In 1997 Sanders set an NFL record by rushing for 100 yards in 14 consecutive games while becoming only the third player in history to reach 2,00 yards in a single season.