Yes, it is true, Barry Sanders is coming back to the Lions. However, though the greatest running back in the history of the team, Sanders won’t be scoring touchdowns but rather serving as the teams brand ambassador, according to the Detroit News.
Sanders left the Lions abruptly after the 1998 season and ripped the hearts out of the fan base. Every season since then the Lions have reached out to Sanders to try and get him back into the organization–first as a player and then as a representative. Barry’s agent, J.B. Bernstein told the Detroit News, ““The Lions have always made an effort, every single season since Barry retired.”
Sanders was the Lions third overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft and immediately was a force on the field. His acrobatic running style, coupled with his ability to make guys miss made him a type of “Must Wath Television.” When he retired after the 1998 campaign, Sanders was just 1,457 yards short of Walter Payton’s all-time rushing record. The relationship between Sanders
The relationship between Sanders and the organization had been strained through the years, no doubt due to the fact that the Lions asked for the $5.5 million bonus Sanders signed in 1997. However, his agent told the Detroit News, it was the game not the organization Sanders wanted to get away from.
“He was just looking to distance himself from the game, not the team, and that somehow gets misinterpreted,” Bernstein said. “He just needed time way from the game, space, perspective and, ultimately, it was the right decision for him even though it was tough for fans and the team.”
Sanders new role with the team will be as their brand ambassador, not all that football related more of a marketing type role. Either way for Barry and for the organization it’s great to have him back. As Bernstein said, and I think we all can agree, “Barry was a Lion, is a Lion and will always be a Lion. I don’t think he ever saw himself as not being part of the team.”