Prior to his abrupt retirement, Barry Sanders electrified fans of the Detroit Lions for a decade.
Sanders was the Detroit Lions No. 3 overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.
Any concerns about his size were quickly erased, as Sanders displayed explosiveness and an uncanny ability to elude defenders throughout his career in the NFL.
CBS Sports recently compiled a list of "The Ultimate NFL Draft," that included the all-time best 256 NFL Draft Picks (i.e., the best player taken with each selection) post-NFL merger in 1970.
Sanders was listed as the best No. 3 selection, behind No. 1 pick Peyton Manning and No. 2 pick Lawrence Taylor.
As Josh Edwards of CBS Sports explained:
"It was incredibly difficult to choose Sanders over Anthony Munoz, but it had to be done. Not all heroes wear capes. Despite a shortened career, Sanders was named to 10 Pro Bowls. He compiled 15,269 rushing yards and 99 rushing touchdowns as well as 352 receptions, 2,921 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns."
Although many supporters in Detroit still lament his early retirement, Sanders provided hundreds of thrills to all football fans with his highlight-reel runs.
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Sanders rekindled his relationship with the Lions in 2017 when he was named a team ambassador.
In 2019, Sanders was named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team along with Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, and others.