For a decade in front of more than 80,000 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders took care of business with the football in his hands. The Pro Football Hall of Famer had more than 1,000 rushing yards in each of his 10 seasons and was named he NFL Most Valuable Player in 1997.
Following the 1998 season, Sanders shocked the football world by announcing his retirement. He was still in his prime and 1,458 yards away from breaking the all-time rushing record set by Walter Payton at 16,726 yards.
In "Bye Bye Barry," Sanders explores his career and the decision behind his retirement. The 92-minute documentary premieres Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime and stars notable Lions fan Eminem.
Sanders did it all as a college and professional athlete. With Mike Gundy as his quarterback at Oklahoma State, Sanders won the Heisman Trophy over Troy Aikman while rushing for a then-national record 2,628 yards.
With the Lions, Sanders was a 10-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL in rushing four times and had 15,269 career rushing yards. In 1991, he led the Lions to their first NFC Championship game appearance since Bobby Layne was quarterback in 1957.
But in high school at North (Wichita, Kan.)
, he struggled to get on the field as a running back. According to BarrySanders.com
, Sanders "dreamed of playing running back" but "he only played defensive back most of his high school career."
Sanders was labeled as an undersized back and wasn't a starter at tailback as a junior due to future Chicago Bears draft pick and older brother Byron Sanders running the rock.
Byron was a year older then Barry and eventually landed at Northwestern where he was a 1,000-yard rusher in 1988, the same year Barry won the Heisman.
When Barry's senior year of high school began, North had a new coach and Barry still wasn't the starting tailback despite his brother graduating. Then after the third game, the starting tailback was suspended and Barry got his shot. He took full advantage, dashing for 274 yards and four touchdowns in the next game. He never relinquished the job and in seven games that year he averaged 10.2 yards per carry with 1,417 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Oklahoma State was one of four schools to offer him a scholarship.
Today his son Noah Sanders
is carving out a high school career of his own at Groves (Beverly Hills, Mich.)
. As a junior, the 5-foot-11 running back had some big games for the Falcons, who went 6-4.
On 71 carries, Noah averaged had 401 yards and seven touchdowns. On Sept. 14 in a 42-35 loss against Southfield Arts & Tech (Southfield), he ran for 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
In the season finale against Seaholm (Birmingham), the younger Sanders excelled in multiple facets of the game by rushing for a score and catching a touchdown pass in a 56-49 shootout loss. Noah took an unofficial visit to Ohio State in October and has an offer from Toledo.