Barry Sanders is the most exciting running back of all time.
There have been better players in the history of the NFL, but what can’t be argued is the fact that former Detroit Lions superstar Barry Sanders was one of the most dominant running backs who ever lived.
Sanders, unquestionably the most electric and fun-to-watch running back who ever played, turned 52 today, meaning there is no better occasion to break out a highlight reel of Sanders‘ most jaw-dropping runs. Even to this day, some of these runs rank among the most exhilarating in the history of the league.
Legends still say that Tony Casillas is still looking for Sanders.
Barry Sanders was arguably the most feared offensive player in the league for a decade.
Drafted third overall in 1989 after creating arguably the best single-season performance in college football history at Oklahoma State, Sanders carried the Lions for 10 seasons. He was named a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in each of his 10 seasons, making First Team six times. He topped 1,300 yards from scrimmage in every season, leading the league in rushing four times while totaling 109 touchdowns. In 1997, Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and 128.3 yards per game.
Despite playing with a poor offensive line outside of left tackle Lomas Brown, Sanders’ Lions were in the playoffs regularly in the 90s. Despite Sanders’ Herculean efforts, he was usually let down by Wayne Fontes’ subpar coaching and some awful quarterback play. Quarterbacks like Scott Mitchell, who might have unfortunately been the best quarterback Sanders ever played with, Rodney Peete, Eric Hipple, and Andre Ware prevented Sanders from ever reaching the Super Bowl.
Sanders unexpectedly retired after 1998 at the age of 30 despite being within striking distance of Walter Payton’s all-time rushing record. The Lions haven’t been able to replace even half of his production since. While he lacks the postseason success of many other great running backs, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that he is one of the game’s greatest players of all time, regardless of era or position.