Barry Sanders’ father passes at 74


For as quiet and reserved as Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, one of the greatest tailbacks to ever touch a football, has been, his father was pretty much the opposite.  Always colorful with a quip at the ready, William Sanders added plenty of flavor to his son’s pro career.

William Sanders died earlier today at age 74, due to complications of lymphoma.

When Barry was inducted into the Hall of Fame, William Sanders said that Jim Brown, not Barry Sanders, was the greatest running back of all time.  And William Sanders ultimately put his son at No. 3, behind Brown and William Sanders.

Via, Barry Sanders credited his father on that day in 2004 for some very good advice regarding the right way to play the game, when Barry was in high school.

“I can think of the day that I learned a precious lesson from him,” Barry Sander said.  “My sophomore year in high school, I was fortunate enough to be on the junior varsity and played a little bit of cornerback and was the kick return guy, punts and kickoffs. We were a little bit outside of our town, Wichita, playing against a team. And it was a very close game and the fourth quarter came, and I don’t remember whether we were up a little bit or down. But the fourth quarter came and it was close and I was in there catching the kicks, and I wouldn’t run up and catch the ball. I wouldn’t run up and catch the punts. I don’t remember whether we won or lost.

”After the game on the ride home, my dad asked me . . . because it was sort of unusual, he never said anything about what I should do on the field, he saved his advice for off the field, and trust me, he had plenty of advice for that.  He asked me, ‘Barry, why weren’t you catching the punts?’  And I was like, ‘Well, daddy, it was a close game, and I didn’t want to run up and drop the punt and cause us to lose the game.’  He said, ‘Son, you can play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.  Don’t be scared to make mistakes.  In life you’re going to make some mistakes.  Even if you wanted to stay in bed all day and avoid the world, that’s not the answer, especially in the game of football.  You’re going to make some mistakes.  Go out and play the way you’re capable of, the coach has you in there for a reason, he has confidence in you.’

“That was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten, because as a player you want to do everything right and sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. . . .  And I can credit William Sanders for that great lesson that allowed me to be a great player, to be here today.”

We extend our condolences to Barry Sanders and his family.

16 responses to “Barry Sanders’ father passes at 74

  1. RIP Mr Sanders. The only thing I can judge him on is how he raised Barry and he did an outstanding job.

  2. Thoughts & Prayers with the Sanders family…

    Barry Sanders is 1 of the greatest football players of all time, but he is an even better human being.

    first class player & first class human being.

  3. Judging on how Barry turned out, the statement he quoted his father from seems like the type of man that would raise Barry. He’s the type of father that never gets in news because he does what he’s supposed to do 24-7. Barry Sanders is a great man just as much off the field as he was on it, and that’s a testament to his parents.

    I look forward to seeing Barry’s son play college football this year and hopefully carry on the tradition of his grandfather and father of being a great human being off the field.

  4. That sucks that he passed away and I feel bad for the Sanders family. However, Barry Sanders Dad was a dick.

    Barry Sanders is the best running back I’ve ever got to watch play the game.

  5. William Sanders was a beloved father who raised a
    boy that turned into a great and humble man.

    Football aside, William gave the world a model human being.

    Thank you Mr. William Sanders, R.I.P.

  6. May William Sanders “Rest In Peace”.

    All the “Smart Ass” comments are all for naught…

    The people leaving the negative comments are obviously inbred, non-educated, “Daddy left my Mommy”, jealous, keyboard commando, WWE, MMA lovin , Busch drinking, no teeth, angry cuz you’re ugly, no talent, fools!

    A man just lost his Father…SHOW SOME RESPECT!

  7. Respect to Barry and the Sanders family,

    But not to be rude…why is this news to us? This sort of thing should be private to him and his family and not thrown out for all of us like we know them personally just because his son was an amazing running back…life.

  8. “Son, you can play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

    I wish he would have told this to Goodell.

  9. I remember reading years ago that Barry Sanders’ father told him, “Son, I love you…but Jim Brown is still the best running back in NFL history.”

    You have to respect the man’s honesty. He did not allow the love of his son to cloud his judgement as a football fan, and that should be and must be respected. We coddle our children so much these days, telling all ugly ducklings that they are beautiful swans and that simply is not true because many are closer to Ralph Wiggum on the Simpsons. Seeing Jim Brown with his own eyes and watching his son with the same eyes he gave an honest opinion, which took nothing from his son. To be thought second best to Jim Brown is great because Jim Brown was the greatest running back of all time.

    Rest in peace, Mr. William Sanders. Fortunately, most of us have the class that madenatewell and a few others lack and we respect the losses of others.

  10. Not to rain on anybody’s parade, but Barry Sanders is the kind of guy that will preach abstinence on TV then go out and knock some hood rat up. Also the way he screwed the Lions, his teammates and fans when he finally decided to take his ball and run home when he couldn’t get his way was nothing less than despicable.

  11. His coach shoulda been the one that told him to catch those punts way before his father ever had to.

    Id like to know more about what his dad thought about him retiring so early.

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