The news absolutely devastated me (I was 21 years old at the time) as I had got to know Barry a bit during my time working for the organization and he was by far my favorite player in the league.
Unfortunately, Sanders retired too soon, despite being just one Barry-like season away from breaking the NFL rushing record which was held by Walter Payton.
SportsCenter reveals Barry Sanders is retiring from NFL [Video]
“Shortly after the end of last season, I felt that I probably would not return for the 1999-2000 season. I also felt that I should take as much time as possible to sort through my feelings and make sure that my feelings were backed with conviction. Today, I officially declare my departure from the NFL.
“It was a wonderful experience to play in the NFL, and I have no regrets. I truly will miss playing for the Lions. I consider the Lions' players, coaches, staff, management and fans my family. I leave on good terms with everyone in the organization. I have enjoyed playing for two great head coaches, Wayne Fontes and Bobby Ross, who are good coaches and leaders. I am not involved in a salary dispute of any kind. If I had played this season, I would have earned a more than satisfactory salary.
“The reason I am retiring is simple: My desire to exit the game is greater than my desire to remain in it. I have searched my heart through and through and feel comfortable with this decision.
“I want to thank all of the fans and media who made playing in the NFL such a wonderful experience. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of them. Although I was not able to honor many of your requests for autographs and interviews, it was not because I overlooked the importance of those who asked.
“Finally, I want to thank my family and friends for their support and guidance. I wish my teammates, coaches and the entire Lions organization all the best.”
Probably the toughest decision that I have faced. The hardest part was the fans… but I hope over the last 25 years I have made the city proud. I love Detroit. Still live here. Always will. https://t.co/wQvndPxmIw
— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) July 28, 2022
Here is a video of the original announcement that was made on SportsCenter.
This is still hard for me to watch.