Looking Back On The Hall Of Fame Career Of Detroit Lions Icon Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders’ Early Retirement Left Fans Wanting More

Former Detroit Lions running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders had a career so magnificent, that when his name comes to mind, it’s hard not to immediately think of the following words:

Retired too early.

Much to the chagrin of the Lions franchise and the football world, Sanders retired after his age-30 1998 season. Unlike many other professionals who retired early due to injuries, Sanders didn’t have any health problems that forced him into the decision. Sanders also didn’t immediately enter another career path (like acting or sports commentary, among others), after retirement.

The pride of Wichita is among the all-time great running backs who were born in the state of Kansas, along with Gale Sayers (Wichita) and John Riggins (Seneca). Kansas sports betting has yet to launch, but there is hope that it will go live by the fall of this year. The Kansas City Chiefs will open their 2022 season with a late afternoon road game against Kyler Murray’s Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 11 (4:25 p.m. EST).

If it does, DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, Caesars and Fox Bet are among the many sportsbooks that will likely go live in “The Wheat State.”Multiple sportsbooks in Kansas like FanDuel and BetMGM are also expected to offer risk-free bets of up to $1,000 for new customers.

The variety of bets you’ll be able to place in Kansas sports betting include props, totals, live bets and futures (division winners, MVPs and more). For instance, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has +900 odds of winning the MVP at DraftKings; only Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills has higher odds (+700). The Chiefs share the third-best Super Bowl 57 odds with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams at +1000.

Sanders, who sits fourth all-time in career rushing yards with 15,269, could have made a play for the top spot on the leaderboard. Emmitt Smith retired as the all-time rushing leader with 18,355 yards. If Sanders played two or three more years, there’s a high chance he would have finished with more yards than Smith.

Nonetheless, Sanders pieced together an incredible career that placed him on the mountaintop of all-time NFL greats.

Sanders’ Stardom With The Lions

Sanders was the No. 3 selection in 1989, one of the greatest NFL draft classes ever. Troy Aikman went first overall to the Dallas Cowboys. After Sanders, the next two picks were fellow future Hall of Famers Derrick Thomas (fourth overall to Kansas City) and Deion Sanders (fifth to the Atlanta Falcons).

Sanders was one of the NFL’s ultimate must-watch players during the ‘90s, in a pivotal decade that saw the sport really take off through lucrative television contracts and the Madden franchise.

He spent all 10 of his NFL seasons with the Lions. Sanders hit over 1,000 rushing yards every single year, an impressive mark that is practically impossible to reach in this day and age.

In the 1991 season, Sanders helped the Lions make a surprise run to the NFC Championship Game, where they ultimately fell 41-10 to Washington. Unfortunately, that’s as far as the Lions would advance in the playoffs during Sanders’ Hall of Fame career.

Detroit was one-and-done in the playoffs for the 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1997 campaigns. What was especially amazing about Sanders’ career, however, was the fact he continuously dominated even though the Lions never had an elite quarterback.

Opposing defenses mostly had to account for Sanders and not Detroit’s ineffective passing game, but it never stopped him from taking over games on a gamely basis.

In 1997, Sanders and Green Bay Packers quarterback shared the MVP award. That year, Sanders rushed for a career-high 2,503 yards and 11 touchdowns. To date, he is only the eighth player in history to hit the 2,000-yard mark in a single season.

The two-time Offensive Player of the Year earned Pro Bowl nods in each of his 10 NFL seasons. Sanders led the NFL in rushing on four occasions and earned NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team honors.

Sanders has mostly stayed out of the spotlight since retiring, but more than two decades after his playing career, his legacy and impact on the Lions’ franchise continues to be widely discussed to this day. If it weren’t for him, the ‘90s would have been a much more painful decade for a franchise that has just one playoff win in the Super Bowl era.

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