Born In: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Even though he retired unexpectedly and quit early in his career, Barry Sanders is regarded as one of the finest American football players of the National Football League in the last decade. After being rejected by several colleges because of his height, Sanders finally joined Oklahoma State on a sports scholarship. He then got picked up by the Detroit Lions for the National Football League (NFL) with whom he spent his entire football career. It was not long before Sanders became famous for his electrifying running style, and became the first player to have reached a record of 1,000 yards for the first 10 seasons. It was only a matter of time before Sanders became one of the crucial players for the Detroit Lions leading the NFL four times in his record-breaking ‘rushing’. He has broken several major records and has also been bestowed with several prestigious awards. Sanders retired from football suddenly, raising a controversy around his abrupt decision. He clarified later that he held the Detroit Lions too close to him to have been replaced from his position. After an amazing football career, Sanders passed on the baton to his son Barry J. Sanders.
Also Known As: Barry David Sanders
Spouse/Ex-: Lauren Campbell
father: William Sanders
mother: Shirley Ann Sanders
children: Barry J. Sanders
Born Country: United States
Notable Alumni: Oklahoma State University
U.S. State: Kansas
City: Wichita, Kansas
education: Oklahoma State University
awards: 1988 - Heisman Trophy winners
1988 - Maxwell Award winners
1988 - Walter Camp Award winners
1988 - Sporting News College Football Player of the Year winners
1988 - Chic Harley Award winners
1990 - AP NFL All-Pro Team
1991 - AP NFL All-Pro Team
1990 - NFL’s all-Decade Team
1997 - NFL MVP Award
1994 - NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award
1989 - NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award
1997 - Bert Bell Award winners
1996 - NFL season rushing yards leaders
1997 - NFL season rushing yards leaders
2004 - Pro Football Hall of Fame
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Barry Sanders was born to William, a carpenter, and Shirley who was a nurse. He belonged to a big family and had two brothers and eight sisters.
Sanders hailed from Wichita, Kansas, and completed his schooling at Wichita North High School.
Even after winning all-state honors, Sanders was not offered too many scholarships except two, because of his short height. He was finally offered sports scholarships by Emporia State, Tulsa, and Oklahoma State University.
From 1986-1988, he played for the Oklahoma State Cowboys backing up ‘All American Thurman Thomas’ only to take his place when Thomas moved on to the NFL.
In 1989, he was selected by the Detroit Lions in the NFL draft and was presented with the number 20 jersey, which was worn by some of the most famous players like Billy Sims and Lem Barney.
Sanders featured on the Lion team as a quarterback, with the team making the playoffs for five years in the 1990s.
In 1991 and 1993, Sanders was a member of the squad that won the NFC Central division title.
In 1994, he was named NFL’s ‘Offensive Player of the Year’ and scored a combined 2,166 yards for the season.
The following year, Sanders beat his own total by posting 1,500 yards with 398 receiving yards. However, in 1996, he reached a career low with 147 receiving yards.
The year 1997 was Sander’s best season by far as he secured a place in the ‘2000 rushing yards club’. He is the third player after O. J. Simpson to do so in a single season and also the first running back to rush for 1,500 yards in five seasons and the only one to do it for four consecutive years.
Sanders’ last NFL season was in 1998. He broke his five-year streak of rushing over 1500 yards, by rushing only for 1491 yards this season.
In 1999, he announced his unexpected and controversial retirement from pro football. By now, he had gained 15,269 rushing yards, 2,921 receiving yards, and 109 touchdowns (99 rushing and 10 receiving). He finally admitted that Lion’s failure was the reason behind his retirement.
Over the years, Sander mended his relationship with the Lions and joined them as a team ambassador in 2017.
He is among the few pro football players holding 34 NCAA records in his illustrious football career.
In 1988, he led the nation and was a part of the greatest season in American football history. He not only created the national college single-season rushing record with 2,628 rushing yards but also won the ‘Heisman Trophy’.
He was selected by Sporting News as NFL Rookie of the Year for the next two consecutive years.
Sanders was named second-team All-Pro four times and was selected to the Pro Bowl every year from 1989 through 1998.
In 1991, he was given the title of ‘NFC Most Valuable Player’ by the NFL Players Association.
He was ‘Player of the Year’ for Sporting News in 1997.
He has also been ranked #2 in ESPN's list of the ‘Top 25 Greatest College Football Players Ever’ in 2008.
He married Lauren Campbell in 2000 and the couple have three sons: Nigel, Nicholas, and Noah. Sanders filed for divorce in 2012.
Barry J. Sanders is his son from a previous relationship. Barry has followed his father’s footsteps for a successful football career and enrolled at Stanford for the 2012-2013 college season.
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