Barry Sanders understands how Andrew Luck felt getting booed

Getty Images

Andrew Luck said it hurt on Saturday night when he was booed off the field, just as fans in Indianapolis were learning he had decided to retire. Barry Sanders understood.

Sanders’ surprise retirement from the Lions in 1999 wasn’t exactly the same: Sanders faxed a retirement statement and went to Europe, so he wasn’t around Lions fans until they’d had some time for his retirement to sink in. But Sanders, too, faced plenty of criticism and hurt feelings from fans who thought he should have stuck around.

It was tough,” Sanders told the New York Daily News today. “But I understood because I had been an avid fan before myself, so I could appreciate certainly where they were coming from: the fact it was a surprise and just that I was — I wouldn’t say in my prime — but I definitely had years left. I can appreciate both sides.”

Sanders, whose son Barry Sanders Jr. got to know Luck on a recruiting visit to Stanford, said he was impressed with Luck’s handling of the situation.

“It’s a personal decision,” Sanders said. “It’s extremely difficult [for Luck]. You could tell, just listening to his press conference. He’s a bright, sharp, young man. He’s got many great options I would assume, but it’s tough for everyone involved. I think he handled it about as well as you could.”

Just as Sanders has been cheered in return appearances to Detroit, Luck will be in Indianapolis. Even if fans at first thought more about themselves, and their disappointment at seeing their favorite players walk away.

15 responses to “Barry Sanders understands how Andrew Luck felt getting booed

  1. Sanders never got booed. Most people thought oh he will be back just give him time. No one thought it was permanent.

  2. Sanders played in an ancient era compared to 2019: no fantasy football, no social media. Plus, he wasn’t a starting QB that announced his retirement two weeks before the start of the season.

  3. I can think of several players who had years left in their prime who retired. Jim Brown, Don Meridith, Barry Sanders quickly come to mind. There are others. There is nothing wrong with retiring with years left in your prime. Either your body, your mind, or your perhaps you feel their is not left to accomplish. Many players know when it’s time. Some players stay far too long.

    As Milton Berle said, it’s better to leave them laughing when you decided to leave the stage. Always leave them wanting more.

  4. The Lions are well known for ruining careers and humiliating the player on the way out.

  5. Quote from Yahoo Sports, August 20, 2019:

    “Settlement of a class-action lawsuit that claimed the NFL’s Rams misled fans about the intention to stay in St. Louis could allow the team’s former Missouri-based fans to recoup a 25 percent refund on tickets and merchandise.”

    Might we see something similar in cases like Luck and/or others who just up and retire and really screw up a team’s season? You gotta admit, Luck’s retirement has thrown a monkey wrench into the Colts’ season even though Jacoby Brisett is a very good and above average NFL QB.

  6. I don’t think Lions fans had a problem with Barry retiring. The timing of his retirement was what many fans had a problem with. He did it after free agency, after the draft, and the day training camp opened. It left the team with Ron Rivers as their #1 guy. At the time, it was viewed as a classless move on Barry’s part.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.