Barry Sanders: Retirement was “clumsy,” but no regrets

Getty Images

Twenty years after announcing his retirement by sending a statement to his hometown newspaper and leaving the country, Barry Sanders says the announcement itself could have gone more smoothly, but the retirement was the right decision.

Asked by the Detroit Free Press if he should have handled it differently, Sanders said he doesn’t necessarily think he’d change anything.

“I’m not sure,” Sanders said. “Being an old, wise guy that I am, I’m careful about saying what things I would do different. You can always look back and see things that you could change. But all in all, yeah, the retirement part was a little clumsy. But the person that I was, I probably wouldn’t [change anything]. That’s really how I was going to handle it, right? So I don’t have that many regrets, as far as that.”

Sanders seemed to be frustrated with the Lions and particularly with head coach Bobby Ross, but Sanders has rarely named anything specific he disliked about Ross, with one noteworthy exception: Ross told the Lions that they shouldn’t help their opponents up after plays, thinking that it would exude toughness to knock a guy down and make him get up on his own. Sanders bristled at that, feeling that good sportsmanship requires helping up a fallen opponent.

That’s the kind of player Sanders was, one who did things his own way, up to and including the day he walked away.

20 responses to “Barry Sanders: Retirement was “clumsy,” but no regrets

  1. Forrest Gregg was same way as a coach. You knock them down, you don’t help them up. Not a bad thing.

  2. There was not a Professional running back I liked as well as Sanders. He didn’t showcase himself after scoring and professionally tossed the ball to a referee. A class act throughout his outstanding career. I am a lifelong Packers fan and certainly wished he would have worn the Green and Gold.

  3. If he had played for any other team, he would have run away with the yardage record easily. Dismal franchise, and Im ashamed for him that he had to play for a team that didn’t care enough to put quality around him. He was literally the only player of an opposing team that I would watch games just to see him. For me, Thanksgiving was Barry Sanders day, not Lions or Cowboys…

  4. Barry Sanders, who was one of the most gifted athletes to play the game, was also one of the classiest.
    It was always a privilege to watch him play and to see him handle his business.
    No disrespect to the earlier poster, but despite the fact that Forest Gregg was one of the greatest linemen of his era, he was one lousy head coach.

  5. Barry Sanders was a generational talent squandered on a terrible franchise. His agent (or Sanders himself) wrote a short telegram to his local newspaper saying it’s over and that was it. No nonsense, no fuss.

  6. I remember the day I learned he retired, as if it were yesterday.

    Devastated, I was.

    Barry was THE ONLY reason to watch the Lions.

  7. I’m a Packers fan but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Barry Sanders. He never tried to put the focus on himself, it was always about the team. Compare that with so many players today such as O’Dell Beckham, Anotonio Brown, and Baker Mayfield, for instance.
    I was glad that Barry Sanders walked away when he did for two reasons. First, I was glad he left on his own terms and before he suffered any serious injury. And second, I was glad he walked away when he did so the Packers didn’t have to face him twice every year because he was such a great running back.
    Sanders was a great player and he’s a great man. Lions fans were very fortunate to have him for his whole career.
    Hats off to him for being honest about his retirement and I hope he lives for many more decades and enjoys himself.

  8. Remember that one time Barry handed the ball to the official after scoring a touchdown? Actually, he did that after almost every TD he scored. When you hear the phrase “act like you’ve been there before”, this is a guy who lived that. He’s a class act that makes all the insecure attention-starved divas like like the fools they are.

  9. Yea, Gregg was so lousy the Bengals went to the Super Bowl and would have won except for the left side of the offensive line.

  10. stew48 says:
    July 22, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Yea, Gregg was so lousy the Bengals went to the Super Bowl and would have won except for the left side of the offensive line.
    Just 3 winning seasons in 11 years of coaching, and one of those was the strike shortened season of ‘82.
    Again, this is just my opinion, but his track record was pretty lousy.
    And when he coached for the Packers, it just seemed he was more interested in trying to inflict injuries and intimidate the opposition, than he was in working through the nuts and bolts of creating a winner.

  11. Some of the prettiest 3 yard runs I have ever seen. Pure talent, I believe the best ever….

  12. Definitely most gifted. I grew up watching OJ, who despite hid post career foibles, was unreal as a player. Sanders was also the best person, I believe, to play the position. Someone youngsters of all races could emulate.

  13. Barry Sanders was one of the most phenomenal and gifted football players I’ve ever seen.
    And when you couple that with the way he carried himself as a professional, he was simply just great.
    And I’m still lamenting to this day that the Packers opted for Tony Mandarich over him in the ‘89 draft.
    It’s enough to make one weep.

  14. I wonder what Barry thinks of all the end zone celebrating that goes on now – especially the choreographed stuff. His celebration was the best – flip the ball to the nearest official and head to the sideline.

  15. I prefer to see players help opponents up. They’re all in the same league, and it shows integrity and sportsmanship.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!