What if Barry Sanders had listened to his dad?
As we eagerly anticipate the release of the Amazon Prime documentary “Bye Bye Barry” in three days (Nov. 21), we can't help but delve into one of the most intriguing scenarios in NFL history. This documentary promises to unravel the enigma surrounding Barry Sanders‘ abrupt retirement from the Detroit Lions, a decision that left fans and the sports world in utter disbelief. But had Barry listened to his dad, we would not be having this conversation.
The Sudden Goodbye
Barry Sanders, an icon in the NFL, stunned everyone when he decided to retire at the peak of his career. With a flight to England marking his departure from the gridiron, the documentary is set to explore the depths of his decision, which has remained shrouded in mystery for 24 years.
Terry Foster, a former Detroit News columnist and radio personality at 97.1 The Ticket, claims to have had daily conversations with Sanders’ father during this tumultuous period. His insights suggest a persistent effort by Sanders' father to reverse his son's decision to retire. This pivotal moment raises a compelling question: What if Barry had taken his father's advice?
The Road to Glory Left Untraveled
When Sanders hung up his cleats, he had already accumulated a staggering 15,269 rushing yards. This figure placed him only 3,086 yards behind Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher. Had Sanders continued to play for just three more seasons, even with a modest average of 1,029 yards per season, he could have eclipsed Smith's record.
Remarkably, Sanders had not shown any signs of decline, rushing for an impressive 1,491 yards in his final season at age 30. This scenario suggests that not only was breaking the record feasible for Sanders, but it might have been a foregone conclusion given his consistent performance.
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Barry Sanders‘ early retirement left him 3,086 yards short of the all-time rushing record.
- To surpass Emmitt Smith’s record, Sanders needed to average a reachable 1,029 yards over three additional seasons.
- Considering Sanders’ form in his last season, achieving this milestone seemed well within his capabilities.
Bottom Line: Bye Bye Barry
Barry Sanders‘ legacy is that of an NFL legend, revered for his electrifying style and unparalleled agility. Yet, had he listened to his father and not stepped away from the game, it's highly probable that today, he would be revered not just as a legend, but as the undisputed all-time leading rusher in NFL history. His retirement not only deprived the fans of witnessing more of his magical runs but also altered the narrative of NFL history.
As “Bye Bye Barry” is set to unveil the story behind Sanders' decision, one can't help but ponder the monumental impact his continued presence on the field would have had on the record books and the legacy of the Detroit Lions. With that being said, WE LOVE YOU, BARRY!