With the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in the books, I got to thinking. I wonder what time former Lions RB Barry Sanders ran the 40-yard dash in? So I started to research and immediately came across a piece written by NFL Senior Media Analyst Gil Brandt that quickly stole my attention.
The piece was written by Brandt on July 22nd, 2004, and was meant to honor Sanders as he would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame less than one month later. Rather than attempting to re-tell the story myself and not do it justice, here is an excerpt from Brandt’s piece that talks about Sanders and what happened at his Pro Day at Oklahoma State.
“Barry decided to come out early but did not work out or run at the combine. Instead he showed off his wares at his Pro Day at Oklahoma State. In those days, the timing days weren’t as well attended as they are now, so there must have been 20 or 25 teams represented.
Everyone’s ready for the workout to start and Barry is nowhere to be found. Word was he was out of town picking up some hardware (trophies) but was on his way. So he flew into Tulsa and came right from the airport to the workout. He got out of the car, got into some sweats, limbered up a little bit and ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash! I remember standing next to Wayne Fontes, who was the Lions head coach at the time. The Lions picked third and we (the Cowboys) were picking first, and it was pretty obvious we were taking Troy Aikman. So Fontes whispers to me, “Hey, I don’t care if he works out or not, we’re taking him No. 3.” I joked with him and told him not to be so sure he’d be there, but he didn’t fall for it.”
Though I have seen slight variations telling of Sanders Pro Day, Gil Brandt is a respected analyst and I trust that his story is true. Here is a link to the rest of the piece that Brandt wrote about Sanders, it is well worth the read.