Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|NFL draft:|| 1989, 1st round,|
|Pro career:||10 seasons|
|Hall of Fame:|| Pro Football|
Barry David Sanders (born July 16, 1968) was a running back in the National Football League who spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions. He was the seventh of eleven children born to William and Shirley Ann Sanders in Wichita, Kansas.
Sanders first attempt at running back didn't come until the fourth game of his senior year (1985) at Wichita North High School. In the final seven games of the season, he rushed for 1,322 yards. Standing at just 5 feet 8 inches, most college coaches thought he was too small. Sanders spent his first two years at Oklahoma State University as a backup for All-American Thurman Thomas. He called it a "great experience". "I could study the great approach to the game that [Thomas] had." In his junior year, Sanders went on to rush for 2,628 yards and 39 touchdowns and win the 1988 Heisman Trophy.
The Detroit Lions selected Sanders with their 1st-round pick in the 1989 draft. His smaller size and quickness made him an effective running back. He was notorious for sometimes running the full width of the field to gain only a yard on a play then, on the next, suddenly breaking through a hole for a 60 yard gain.
Sanders' most productive year came in 1997. Rushing for 2,053 yards, he became only the third player to reach 2,000 yards in a single season. He was the first running back to rush for 1,500 yards in five seasons and the only one to do it four consecutive years. He also set an NFL record by rushing for at least 100 yards in 14 consecutive games. He was named the league's Most Valuable Player.
On July 28, 1999, at the age of 31, Sanders announced his retirement from pro football. He left football having gained 15,269 yards and 109 touchdowns, the former statistic placing him behind only Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
Sanders's retirement was a matter of some controversy. Two years beforehand, Sanders had renewed his contract with the Lions for $35.4 million over 6 years with an $11 million signing bonus. When he retired with several years left on his contract, the Lions demanded that he return $7.3 million of the bonus. Sanders refused, and the Lions sued and eventually won a judgment against him. On February 15, 2000, arbitrator Sam Kagel ruled that Sanders was in default of his bonus agreement and owed $5.5 million plus interest over the next three years.
As of 2004, Sanders lives in suburban Detroit with his wife, Lauren Campbell, a former weekend news anchor in Detroit, and three children. He is a majority stock holder of a bank in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and regularly attends card shows, charities, and the golf course.
- In 1988, Sanders won the Heisman Trophy while attending Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
- In the 1989 draft, he was selected in the 1st round (3rd overall) by the Detroit Lions.
- In 1997, he set an NFL record by rushing for at least 100 yards in 14 consecutive games and became only the third player to reach 2000 yards in a single season. He shared the NFL MVP award with Brett Favre.
- Each of his 10 years from 1989 through 1998 he was first- or second-team All-Pro and selected to the Pro Bowl.
- Over his professional career, he rushed for at least 100 yards in 76 games, second only to Walter Payton's 77 games.
- At retirement, Sanders' 15,269 career rushing yards placed him second behind Walter Payton's 16,726 yards.
- His 18,190 career yards from scrimmage place him fourth on the all-time list.
- On January 31, 2004, he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- On August 8, 2004, he was inducted to the Hall of Fame along with Bob Brown, Carl Eller, and John Elway.
- Gil Brandt, "Hall recall: Barry Sanders", NFL.com, July 22, 2004.
- Craig Ellenport, "Sanders was born to run", NFL.com, August 8, 2004.
- Mark McCormick and Barry Sanders, Barry Sanders: Now you See Him (Emmis Books, 2003).
- Sam Mellinger, "A Hard Man to Catch", The Kansas City Star, August 8, 2004, pp. C1, C8.
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