Photo courtesy of the NFL Hall of Fame
Perhaps no other player in NFL history has ever electrified a crowd every time he touched the ball like Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders, who played all 10 of his NFL seasons (1989-98) with the Lions. Whether it was his almost superhuman-like moves to avoid tacklers or his ability to go the distance every time, Sanders was amazing and he finished his career as one of the NFL’s best running backs of all-time. Lions fans remember fondly the thunderous 'Barry, Barry' chants that roared in the Silverdome.
Sanders compiled 15,269 career rushing yards, which was second all-time at the time of his retirement (currently third all-time). He was first or second team All-NFL in each of his 10 seasons, named the league’s co-MVP in 1997, selected to 10 Pro Bowls, and, in 2004, Sanders was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He holds virtually every Lions’ rushing record and recorded 1,000 yards in each of his 10 seasons. The four-time NFL leading rusher (1990, 1994, 1996 and 1997) also became the first NFL running back to record five 1,500-yard rushing seasons, in addition to being the only back to do so in four consecutive seasons (1994-1997).
The most impressive feat of his remarkable career, however, came in 1997, when he rushed for a league-best 2,053 yards and gained another 305 yards on 33 catches for an incredible tally of 2,358 combined yards gained. That year, Sanders, who was named co-MVP, gained more than 100 yards rushing in an NFL record 14 consecutive regular season games, and he became the third back in NFL history to record 2,000 rushing yards in a single-season (2,053 yards). On the way to the record-breaking total, Barry started slowly with only a combined 53 yards rushing in the season's first two games. He then rushed for an NFL-record 14 straight 100-yard plus rushing games including two big outbursts - 215 yards at Tampa Bay and 216 yards vs. the Colts. Heading into the last game of the season against the New York Jets at the Pontiac Silverdome, December 21, 1997, Barry needed 131 yards to reach 2,000.
Held to only 20 yards in the first half, he exploded for 164 yards in the last two quarters including a 53-yard romp on his last carry of the game for the 2,053-yard total. In the process, the Lions defeated the Jets 13-10 and clinched a playoff berth. He was spectacular from day one. In his pro debut during his rookie year in 1989, he dazzled the crowd with an 18-yard rush in his first carry and then proceeded to set a rookie franchise record with 1,470 yards that season. He was 10 yards shy of leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie, but selflessly offered another opportunity to a teammate play in the final game of the season when the Lions had the game well in-hand as time wound down. The 1988 Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma State entered the NFL Draft in 1989 after his junior year and was drafted by the Lions with the third overall pick that year.
Sanders' Career Lions' Stats
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