Barry Sanders: The greatest running back of all time?


Barry Sanders had an excellent career in the NFL. Even though he never won a super bowl, he broke many records and had incredible stats every season. Barry played with the Detroit Lions from 1989-1998 and in his short 10 year career, he rushed for 15,269 yards in 152 games. With that being said, Barry averaged about 100 rushing yards per game for his career. 

In arguably his best season in 1997, Barry rushed for over 2000 yards, and scored 11 touchdowns. Barry ran for an average of 128 yards per game during this season, and even took home the MVP. Barry collected an astonishing 1,300 rushing yards nine times during his career. He also finished his career with a total of 109 combined touchdowns.

Barry is often compared to many other great running backs such as Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, and Jim Brown. The difference between them and Sanders is the fact that he never played on a winning team. Nothing but losing in his years with the Lions. Even though Barry did lead the Lions to the playoffs five times in ten years, he made the choice to retire soon because of his frustration with Detroit’s inability to build a contender. This was very disappointing considering the potential Barry had, and what he could have brought to most teams. Just not the Lions.

Barry secured 10 Pro Bowl nods in 10 seasons, and six first-team All-Pro honors. A lot of times people forget about the impact that he had on the offensive side of the ball just because he played for the Lions, but what they don’t understand is the actual impact that Barry made on the field. He had many amazing games, but he also had a couple that he would never forget. In 1991, the Lions played the Vikings and Barry had a game to remember. He rushed for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns. Another great game he had was a Sunday night game against Tampa Bay. Barry rushed for only 37 yards at half so nobody knew it was coming. And then in the second half, Barry exploded and ran for 200 yards. He then became the only player to ever rush for 200 yards in a game without scoring a touchdown. 

Barry had not only made a major impact in the NFL and made an even bigger one in his college days at Oklahoma State. Barry is considered the “Greatest College Football Player ever” by a number of sports analysts and experts and it’s hard not to agree with them. He won the Heisman trophy at Oklahoma State in 1988, and broke a total of 34 records in his 3 years with the Cowboys. Barry set the record for most rushing yards in a season, rushing touchdowns in a season, most touchdowns in a season, most games with 300+ rushing yards in a season and career, and most points scored in a season, just to name a few. In that same Heisman Trophy season, this all-star led the nation in yards per carry (7.6) and averaged over 200 rushing yards per game. 

In the 1989 draft, Barry was drafted 3rd overall and wore number 20 in honor of Billy Sims, who was the Lion’s previous running back. A lot of people were concerned about Barry’s size. He was only 5’8” but weighed 203 lbs—the same as Walter Payton—and he was only slightly under the NFL average for a running back. Furthermore, Barry had exceptional explosiveness and footwork with the ball in his hands, and was very quick with his feet.

Barry ran for 18 yards on his first carry ever in the NFL, and scored a touchdown on his fourth. He finished the season 2nd in total rushing yards and touchdowns only 10 yards short of taking home the rushing title (Won by Christian Okoye). Barry Sanders took home rookie of the year and only went up from there in his career. 

Barry will always be remembered as a dominant running back and even considered the greatest running back of all time in some people’s eyes over studs such as Walter Payton.

Who was the better running back, Walter Payton or Barry Sanders?


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Walter Payton: The greatest running back of all time?