Sanders was drafted in the third round by the Lions in 1968 out of the University of Minnesota and played with Detroit until 1977, retiring as the team’s all-time leader in receptions. He finished his career with 336 receptions, 4,137 yards and 31 touchdowns.
He was inducted into Hall of Fame in 2007, one of only eight tight ends in the Hall.
"Today we lost one of the greatest Detroit Lions of all time," Lions president Tom Lewand said in a statement. "Charlie was a special person to the entire Lions family for nearly a half century. While never forgetting his North Carolina roots, 'Satch' became the consummate Detroit Lion on and off the field. He was a perfect ambassador for our organization and, more important, was a true friend, colleague and mentor to so many of us."
Sanders spent seven years as a broadcaster, another eight as a coach and the last 16 as a player personnel scout for Detroit.
"The Ultimate Lion," former Detroit Pistons star and former Detroit mayor Dave Bing said to the Detroit Free Press. "This city has been blessed to have somebody of his character and his ability as a football player. When you mix those two things together, he really represents the Lions organization and city of Detroit like nobody else."
Sanders is survived by his ex-wife, Georgianna, and their 10 children.
- Scooby Axson