Barry Sanders

My article that I choice was about one of the most
interesting sports players of our time. Barry Sanders
arguably the best back ever to play the game of football.

Barry is not one of those players who is just out there to
make money, no he loves the game and is always trying his
hardest when he is out there. In my paper there is allot
interest information about Barry that not every one knows
about him. Barry Sanders was born July 16th, 1968 in
Wichita, Kansas. He grew up in a family being one of
eleven other children. When Barry was a kid he was
considered to be too short to play football well at the
college level. In fact, his 1,417 yards rushing in his senior
year of high school wasn’t enough to impress college
recruiters. One recruiter told Barry’s coach, “We don’t
need another midget.” Only two colleges offered Barry a
football scholarship. Barry accepted a scholarship from
Oklahoma State University and the rest is now history.

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Here are some of Barrys career achievements that he has
done in the short time he has played the game. Which has
made him such the over achiever that he is. 1988, won the
Heisman Trophy Award for best player in the nation. 1989,
lead the NFC in rushing and was Rookie of the Year.

1992, became the Lions’ All-Time leading rusher. 1994,
rushed for the fourth best NFL season record of 1,883
yards and included a 237 yards in week 11 vs. Tampa
Bay. In 1996, became the first player in NFL history to
rush for over 1,000 yards in his first eight seasons, won the
NFL rushing title, selected to the Pro Bowl for the eighth
time and became the first player to rush for over 1,500
yards in three consecutive seasons. Sanders continues
adding to his extraordinary numbers on the field. He has
run for 1,300 yards and now stands seventh among the
NFLs all-time rushers with 11,472, having surpassed Ottis
Anderson, O.J. Simpson and John Riggins. Hes 128 yards
behind Kansas Citys Marcus Allen, Sanders
boyhoodhero when he was growing up in Wichita, Kan.,
and Allen was a Los Angeles Raider. Next year, providing
he keeps up this trend of 1,000-yard seasons, Sanders will
pass Franco Harris (12,120), Jim Brown (12,312) and
Tony Dorsett(12,739) and slide into third place behind Eric
Dickerson (13,259) and Walter Payton (16,726). Sanders
is the first player in league history to rush for at least 1,000
yards in eight straight seasons, and Thursday he was named
to his eighth straight Pro Bowl. “Anytime he touches the
ball, its a highlight reel,” says Allen, now in his 15th NFL
season. “The player most fun to watch, and by far, the most
dangerous player in the game today, is Barry Sanders. He
is jus! t remarkable. He is also, in my opinion, the guy
everyones still trying to crack.” Mention any of this to
Sanders, and you would expect him to be bemused,
wearing the kind of bored look people get when theyre
waiting in line at the grocery store. Youve seen him being
interviewed on TV, standing or sitting in that same spot in
front of his locker, avoiding eye contact with the camera
and speaking in that unhurried monotone. There has always
been a kind of perceived uneasiness about him. But rattle
off a few of the aforementioned tales of changeespecially
what his teammates and family have noticed about him
latelyand he nods knowingly and begins, very
un-Sanders like, by answering a question with a question.

“When I first came into the league, I was 20 years old,” he
starts out saying. “Now Im 28. So wouldnt you expect
there to be some changes between 20 and 28?” Sure, you
say. He continues. “I know Im more outgoing, especially
publicly,” Sanders says. “I dont think any! of my brothers
or sisters, though, would ever term me as quiet or reserved.

Whenever I become more comfortable with people, I get
more open. And now, I just think Im more comfortable
outside of my own little environment and people can see
more of me, more inside of the person. Before, I was a
person who felt out of their element and was just kind of
being, sitting back and watching everything. “At home, they
knew I wasnt just this quiet and reserved person, the way
people thought I was here. Its just a matter of comfort,
thats all it is. Even in the locker room, people that Im not
real close with I can laugh and joke. And now, Im more
prone to try to defend myself from attacks from Brett
Perriman and Herman Moore.” Sanders starts cracking up.

Get it? He has just made a joke. “I can sit and talk with my
oldest son for hours and hours. Barry and I could never do
that. But the last time he called, he asked to talk tome. We
talked for quite a while. Barry, he used to make me mad
because he was just like his mother. Looks like her. Quiet
like her. I wanted him to have something of me. But I
wouldnt let him be outgoing. Barry, I said, youve got to
be different. Ask him. Hell remember.”William
Sanders, Barrys father Peter Schaffer, one of Sanders
agents, lives in Denver. He belongs to a health club where
Sanders and former Michigan receiver Mercury Hayes
joined a pick up basketball game last year. Sanders! ,
whos 5-feet-8 and 203 pounds, wore a plain T-shirt and
shorts. Hayes shirt said”Michigan” on the front. The next
day, a couple of Schaffers friends who played in the game
sought him out. “Hey, it was sure fun playing basketball
with Mercury Hayes!” they said. Schaffer didnt have the
heart to tell them who the other guy was. Stories like that
one are still as popular as they were in 1988 — the year
Sanders won the Heisman Trophy as a junior at Oklahoma
State and turned down an invitation to the White House
because he said he had to study. Or how about the time
two years ago in Miami when Sanders spent the evening in
the lounge at the Marriott? Think youre onto some juicy
gossip, right? Well, Sanders wasnt attached to any bar
stool. He and Steve Atwater of the Denver Broncos were
in a corner, playing Pop-A-Shot basketball all night.

Former Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown has a good
one, too. He can list the times Sanders has been over to his
house for dinner, but you! wouldnt have known he was
there. “You know how its kids in one room, adults in
another?” says Brown, who spent 11 years with the Lions
before he signed with the Arizona Cardinals last February.

“Well, most of the time Barry would be with my kids, sitting
on the floor playing a video game or eating off their plates
watching a movie.” Sanders, who has one year left on a
four-year, $17.2-million contract he signed in December
1993, still lives in the $175,000 house in Rochester Hills he
bought in 1989 after the Lions made him their first-round
draft pick. But back in Wichita, he moved his parents into a
new 7,000-square-foot house three years ago. The white
brick home, which sits on 11 acres with a private pond
stocked with bass, crappie and catfish, replaces the
three-bedroom, 850-square-foot home Barry and his 10
brothers and sisters grew up in. “You do whats right,”
Sanders says with a shrug. Well, that includes everything
from paying the college tuitions for his brothers! and sisters
to making sure his Nike contract still has a clause that says
the company must supply his former high school football
coach with 60 pairs of shoes a year. One person who
knows Sanders best outside his family is Mark
McCormick, a newspaper reporter at the Wichita Eagle.

They grew up on the same street, Volutsia, on the citys
north side, and have been friends since McCormick got
over the day Sanders beat him up in kindergarten. When
Sanders was attending Oklahoma State, McCormick was
studying journalism at the University of Kansas. He was on
a tight budget and got sick, losing 30 pounds one semester.

“Dang, whats going on with you?” Sanders asked. “Im in
college,” McCormick replied. “Im starving.” Sanders
wanted to help and offered his Pell Grant money, which
McCormick refused. A few years later, after Sanders
joined the Lions, he heard that McCormick was evicted
from an apartment after getting his first job. He mailed him
$500. “Im at the point now in our rel! ationship that I can
never repay him unless I give him a lung or a kidney,”
McCormick says. “And he still calls me all the time.” After
rushing for 1,470 yards and breaking Billy Sims
single-season club record his rookie year, Sanders gave
each of the Lions offensive linemen a Rolex watch, valued
at more than $10,000. On the back was the inscription:
“Thanks for a great 89 season. Barry Sanders.” When
center Kevin Glover came home one day last February, a
box the size of a small refrigerator was sitting in the
driveway near his garage. In it was a big-screen TV and a
thank-you note from Sanders. “Its not expected, but he
does it,” Glover says. The TV “is something Im going to
cherish. When I retire, I plan on getting a plaque for it that
will say, A gift from Barry Sanders. ” All of this giving, all
of this helping, and Sanders still turns down most of the
endorsement offers that come his way, deals that could
bring him an additional $4 million to $5 million a year, Sc!
haffer says. “You can put $1 million in front of him that he
turns down, but hell say yes to the Michigan state seat-belt
patrol campaign,” Schaffer says. “A lot of football players
have tremendous egos. They like to see themselves on TV.

Not Barry.” Sanders doesnt decline everything, though.

He has endorsement deals with more than a half-dozen
companies, including many of the prized onesNike,
McDonalds, Cadillac, 7-Eleven, and, soon to be
announced, Little Caesars. “He needs to let himself take
off,” Perriman says. “He should be the Michael Jordan of
football. He could be that. Playing eight years, he knows
hes not going to be playing forever. I tell him, You better
get what you deserve and what you can while you can. He
needs to be as large in commercials as he is a player.” But
Sanders wont. He is doing more, but he wont do it all. “I
wish there were another way of doing it,” Sanders says of
endorsements. “Im definitely more comfortable with the
game being bigger than the person.” That has been
Sanders philosophy since the fourth grade. That year, in
his first football game ever, the first time he touched the
ball, he scored on a 70-yard sweep. The next Saturday, his
coach tried him out on kickoffs. He ran the first one back
for a touchdown. His father was there. “It was 1977 and I
was sitting in my 63 Pontiac listening to Texas beat
Oklahoma, 13-6,” William Sanders says. “Must have run
for three or four touchdowns that day.” In his first few
years with the Lions, much was made about Sanders
upbringing, about the stern father and quiet mother, par!
ents who had their own distinct ways of raising their
children. “Growing up, the kids would get together and just
kind of ask the question, How in the world did these two
get together? ” Barry says with a laugh. Barry was
especially close to his motherand still is. Shirley Sanders
had children spanning three decades, beginning with Diane,
born in 1959, and ending with Krista, the youngest of the
eight girls, born in 1974. Shirley delivered Barry, No. 7 on
the familys roster, on July 16, 1968. His mother speaks in
a soft voice and is bashful around strangers. “I love it when
he comes home,” she says. “We sit and talk for hours. I
miss him. I feel for him sometimesall the attention he gets
and doesnt want.” When her husband pipes up and offers
one of his gruff opinions (“I dont like boys to be close to
their mothers because it makes sissies out of them,” he
says), Shirley smiles and rolls her eyes. Last month at the
Sanders home in Wichita, Shirley spent part of the eveni!
ng in her kitchen listening to Christian music while her
husband sat on his leather recliner watching a basketball
game. Indiana was beating up Princeton. Shirley says she
missed many of Barrys football games when he was
growing up, mainly because Friday night was reserved for
choir practice at Paradise Baptist Church. Religion is a
central theme of the Sanders family. One of the proudest
moments in her life came when Barry sent $200,000 of his
$2.1-million signing bonus to Paradise his rookie year.

While Shirley is quiet and unassuming, her husband is
anything but. William Sanders listens to Rush Limbaugh and
Dr. Laura, smokesWhite Owl cigars and rarely leaves
home without his Cleveland Browns jacket. His favorite
college remains Oklahomabecause he listened to the
Sooners broadcasts on the radio when he was growing up.

He points out that he has collected only two autographs for
himself through the yearsTroy Aikman (because he
played two seasons at Oklahoma) and Bernie Kosar!
(Cleveland). In 1994, William Sanders brought a football
to Dallas, where the Cowboys were playing the Lions.

When the teams were warming up, he was introduced to
Emmitt Smith. Sanders asked if Smith could do him a favor
and sign his football for a friend. “He said hed get me after
the game,” William Sanders says, angry as he tells the
story. As it turns out, the Lions won the game in overtime.

When he asked Smith to sign the ball, he refused. “My
Barry would never do that,” Sanders says. Until this past
summer, William Sanders was working six days a week as
a freelance roofer and remodeler. Before that, he worked
on the beef-kill line at a rendering plant, firing .22s into the
skulls of cattle, among other jobs. “Barry came into money
in 88,” William Sanders says, walking up the private drive
that leads to their home. “You know, well be here four
years on Memorial Day. I was never hung up on moving
out of the ghetto just to say I moved out. Money can be a
curse and a nigh! tmare if you let it control you.” As nice as
his new house is, William Sanders misses his old
neighborhood. “I bought that house (on Volutsia) for
$8,200 in 1964,” he says. “I paid it off in February 1984 —
$77.50 a month on a 20-year note.” In those days, sleeping
arrangements were eight girls in one bedroom, three boys
in another. William was the neighborhoods master builder
of bunk beds. And also, the chief disciplinarian. “I
remember in Barrys senior year in high school he had on a
pair of Converse All-Stars for basketball, “William Sanders
says. “He came in one day and his shoes were untied. I told
him if he ever comes in the house again with his shoes
untied Id break both his legs. “I was such a sergeant over
my kids. I felt I had to be.” Barrys brother Byron, who
played football at Northwestern, says, “My father doesnt
realize that although we appear to be reserved, no one in
the world can intimidate any of his children because of the
way he was. He loved us, and ! thats the difference.”
Today, the children all grown and gone, William Sanders
misses the full house. Hes planning a family reunion for
next summer. “Let me tell you how I feel about things now,”
William Sanders says. “God told Abraham that he was a
blessing to many nations. Well, were thankful for the
blessings of Barry. I remember I wanted one of my sons to
go to Oklahoma so bad, so that I could go down in peace.

Now, if Barry goes into the Hall of Fame, when hes
standing up there, on the steps in Canton, I can lay down
right there and die.” “I think a lot of things that I believe
have changed, or I have just adjusted some. I think if thats
what you really want to do, then I think you should. What
the other players around the league think about him. You
could call him the best running back, and there would be no
real argument. But you could go even further: Barry
Sanders of the Detroit Lions might be, quite simply, the
best player in the game. Were he to be judged only for the
magic he creates with a hand off, his supremacy would end
at his position. but Sanders has accomplished something
remarkable, if not unprecedented, since the days of Jim
Brown. The current of terror that begins to flow in the days
and hours before a game usually emanates from vicious
defenders and flows white-hot into the rattled psyches of
the players who earn their pay with the ball in their hands.

But alone among his offensive fellows, Sanders has
reversed that current. Sanders has a whole breed of men
best known for barking like dogs instead praying out loud.

In a week of preparing for Sanders, says Chicago Bear
linebacker Vinson Smith, “You have to not sleep for a
couple of nights.” Re! ally? “Yes. Yes. “And even during
fitful dozing, says Minnesota Viking defensive tackle Henry
Thomas, who usually dreams of sacks and motor cycles,
“you sit up in the middle of the night hollering, ‘Barry!
Sanders!’ ” Most people dont just think Barry is a great
football player they also think he is a great person too.

Barry Sanders is simply the most exciting sports player to
watch. Not to mention that he has a great personality and is
a class act. This guy is so good at what he does it’s scary
and he doesn’t even have a trace of ego in him. When
Barry runs the ball he defies the laws of gravity and physics
of a moving object. He makes moves that make your eyes
pop out of their sockets and leave your mouth hanging
wide open. To me this report help my find out that Barry is
more than just a good ball player he also is a good person
that most people dont see. Barry does not let all the
money he earns get to his head he act like you and me. At
the end of Barrys career he will probably own every single
record there is. He is on the pace to do that with no
problem. There is no doubt in my mind that Barry will be in
the Hall of Fame with ease. To bad all the sports players
are not like Barry if they were all the games you watch
would be ten times better then what they are now.


I'm William!

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