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Notes: Relive Barry Sanders’ 1989 Draft Day bizarre interview with Dan Patrick

I breakdown what could have happened in this odd interview the day the legendary back was selected.

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Detroit Lions Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

The year is 1989. With the third overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma State, the now legendary Barry Sanders.

On Thursday morning, Sanders tweeted at ESPN and Dan Patrick about their interview on 1989 NFL Draft Day.

I found it very, uhhh, kind of Sanders to offer that apology. Have you seen that interview? Let’s break it down. I’m no Dan Patrick but I’m a broadcaster and this was w-e-i-r-d. This whole breakdown is just my opinion.

It begins with Patrick: “We’re finding out Barry Sanders is just as elusive off the field as he is on the field, we finally tracked him down after a couple of hours. We had sightings of you going to church, we have sightings of you going to the airport to go to Detroit — where have you been?”

Said in a light tone, I think this is plays okay, like, “Hey where’d ya go, silly goose?” Said in this serious tone, I get the feeling Patrick had been frustrated for hours as his producers go: “WHERE IS THAT INTERVIEW? GET THAT INTERVIEW!”

Sanders responds: “I’ve been at home watching the draft, first I watched — the first 10 selections — then I did a little press conference on the phone with Detroit media, then talked to reporters here from the local staffs.”

I’m sure Detroit media was beyond thrilled about the special attention. Passing up national guys and gals for the local guys and gals? That’s neat.

Again there’s a weird thing with tone here. Instead of asking, so how are you feeling about all this? Patrick says, “You don’t seem like you’re thrilled with all of this.”

Sanders explains: “I get emotional at weddings and at funerals. I mean football, you know, it’s a game, you know. I don’t really like dealing with a lot of the unnecessary stuff that goes along with it.”

You mean you get more choked up over love and death? Fair enough. Patrick goes on to say he spoke with Sanders about not being too excited about going to Detroit with their run-and-shoot offense. Barry responds about how he’ll have to handle that.

Then Patrick continues on Sanders’ personality. “You’re one of the shier persons I’ve ever met. You didn’t want to meet the media today. You didn’t want to go to Detroit to meet the media up there.”

That confuses me — didn’t Sanders say he was doing some phone interviews? Hmm. Anyway, then Patrick slaps this one down on the table: “Pretty tough to be a pro athlete and stay out of the spotlight there bud.”

Bud. Bud. BUD.

Sanders replies: “I think I’m being read wrong. I think it’s not that I’m shy, I’m not shy, but like i say, some things are just unnecessary and I’m not trying to down put what you guys do, but you have to respect my judgement and the way I am as a person, too. Every individual is different, you know, and I’m learning now that ... in situations like this, people don’t really care about you. That’s all I’ll say. They don’t really care about you — they just pretty much want what they can get out of you, that’s just something I’ll have to deal with.”

Pretty heavy stuff. Then for his final question, Patrick asks where Sanders thinks his brother will be drafted. Imagine being a star athlete, getting drafted third overall, and this whole kerfuffle is how the conversation goes. Maybe there’s more context we’re not seeing, but boy it comes off rough. I looked around to see if Patrick ever talked about the interview again, but was unable to find anything. Let me know if you do, I’d love to hear what was going on.

Onto the rest of your notes.

  • Some pictures from the scene of the big day.

  • In case you missed it, the Lions are hosting a virtual draft party starting around 6:45 p.m. While we invite you to join us here at PoD, here’s what the detroitlions.com team is offering:

  • I personally cannot get over the weird news that keeps coming out about Roger Goodell’s involvement with the draft.

SB Nation’s James Dator offers eight places Goodell’s chair could travel to at the 2021 NFL Draft.