For the 10 years that followed, Sanders was the best running back in the NFL and he could have been for even longer had he not felt the need to retire while still in his prime.
In fact, had Sanders had one more Sanders-like season before he retired, he would have passed Walter Payton for No. 1 on the all-time rushing list at that time.
Barry Sanders explains what may have convinced him to play longer
Kyle Meinke of MLive spoke to Barry Sanders back in 2021 and he asked him if he would have played longer had he been traded to a contender.
“For me, it was just about being done playing football,” Barry Sanders said. “I generally liked being here in Detroit and liked the fact we wanted to establish a winner for a team that hadn’t won much. I think we got part of the ways there.
“(But) I think, yeah, when you’re playing in a winning situation, had I been somewhere else or traded somewhere else, it’s hard to say. Depends who you’re traded to. If you’re saying that I would have been able to go team up with Joe Montana? I mean, you know, who wouldn’t have loved that, you know? Or something like that. But generally speaking, at that point I was done playing. I loved playing here in Detroit. I just needed to leave the game at that time because of the circumstances.”
When Barry retired, he released a statement thanking the Lions organization but he said his desire to keep playing did not outweigh his desire to retire.
It sure would have been fun to watch him play for a few more seasons. Who knows what could have happened?
Nation, how would you have felt about Barry Sanders playing for a team other than the Detroit Lions? Would you have liked to see him teamed up with Joe Montana?