Today is Barry Sanders 50th birthday. For many Detroit Lions fan, Barry was their pathway to becoming fans of the team. While Detroiters were likely born that way, Sanders’ jaw-dropping career brought a team of NFL fans outside of Michigan over to the side of the Honolulu Blue.
And Barry’s career did wonders for those in Michigan, too. After decades of being a miserable, hopeless Lions fan, Barry gave Detroit hope. He brought a downtrodden franchise to relevance and even helped get them a game away from the Super Bowl—a task the franchise had never accomplished before and hasn’t accomplished since.
His 10 seasons in Detroit were a blessing filled with head-shaking moments and breathtaking highlights.
So in honor of his 50th birthday, today’s Question of the Day is:
What is your favorite Barry Sanders moment?
My answer: I could go with the easy answer and say the moment he broke 2,000 yards. I could reference his best performance back in November 24, 1991, when he rushed for 220 yards on 23 carries and scored four touchdowns.
But Barry isn’t defined by his stats or his mark on the record books. Barry is defined by his highlights, and nothing is more Barry Sanders than this run against the Cowboys:
I love this highlight because it has everything:
- Unbelievable balance? Check.
- Ankle-breaking a defender? Check. (poor No. 51)
- Befuddled defenders? Oh, we see you No. 75.
It’s that last one that really makes the highlight. The Cowboys defensive lineman assumes the play is over, because for the 31 other starting running backs in the league, the play would be over. But Barry freakin Sanders is not only still on his feet, but HE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU. By the time the Cowboys player turns around, he’s already choking on Barry’s cloud of dust.
The only thing this play is missing is Barry’s patented reversing of the field that he mastered so expertly. But everything else perfectly encapsulates the magic that Barry produced on the field on a weekly basis.
Happy birthday, big guy. Thanks for everything.