Why the Detroit Lions’ ‘strong’ draft and busy offseason has Barry Sanders excited

Detroit Free Press

In two decades of retirement, Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders has had plenty of time to practice his golf swing.

But he admits his swing isn’t on par with pros Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and others who also participated Tuesday in the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s AREA 313 celebrity scramble.

“It was good. I hit a good shot or two. Maybe half a good shot,” Sanders said about his performance in the three-hole charity event at Detroit Golf Club. Humid and wet conditions on the course didn’t discourage spectators, who surrounded Hole 15 on the course — not to critique Sanders’ questionable form or shot, but to celebrate and take pictures with the former running back.

“Honestly. It’s amazing. I feel like it’s about time,” Sanders said about interacting with fans attending the golf tournament. “It’s just kind of a sigh of relief. We’re getting back to the way things used to be in some degree.”

WELCOME BACK: Detroit Lions welcome back fans to Allen Park facility for 2021 training camp

BEHIND THE BUST: Calvin Johnson’s HOF bust almost complete: ‘I’m beating myself up trying to get it right’

Sanders found early success on his first hole of the day, managing to hit par on the first hole before a few errant hits and a shot into the rough on the remaining holes.

“I saw Barry swing a couple of times today, I’m not gonna ask him for any tips,” Arizona Cardinals star receiver Larry Fitzgerald said jokingly.

The two football greats reunited after a year-long pandemic and discussed their mutual love of golf. At the conclusion of the tournament, Fitzgerald playfully tackled Sanders.

“I’m getting slower. Back in the old days, I would have seen him from the back of my head. I would have seen him from a mile away, man,” Sanders said after being roughed up by Fitzgerald.

“I remember seeing him as a kid in the Metrodome. Just seeing the kind of player he is, the man he’s become. I know we have things in common of enjoying golf, and being able to participate in something like this is pretty neat.”

Their relationship dates back to Minneapolis in the 1990s when Fitzgerald was a ball boy with the Vikings. Fitzgerald remembers candid pregame conversations with Sanders about his schoolwork and how he should listen to his parents.

“I love Barry Sanders. I never forget one of my favorite players of all time,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve never forgotten (pregame conversations). Every time I see Barry, I always embrace him tell him I love him. I just appreciate him for being a true ambassador to the game. He’s just a wonderful human being.”

Sanders is preparing for Calvin Johnson’s Hall of Fame induction in August and a reunion with the Lions after COVID-19 protocols limited his involvement.

“I don’t know if they’re fully open at this point. I’ll probably see a lot of them down the hall of fame, to welcome Calvin into the Hall of Fame. So excited about that,” Sanders said. “(Calvin’s) obviously well deserving. He was a dominant force in the game when he played.”

The Lions have been busy with the addition of quarterback Jared Goff and drafting lineman Penei Sewell out of Oregon in the first round has brought some offseason optimism.

“I think there’s good excitement about coach (Dan) Campbell, about some of the news we make.” Sanders said.  “You’ve got into a young up-and-coming quarterback, so you got to be able to protect him.”

“So, I think drafting one of the best linemen out there first, there’s a good move. then you just hope that it works out. Most of the fans know, the general offseason excitement, I think was a strong draft. We just got to make sure that it shows up on the field.”

Mia Berry is a sports reporting intern with the Free Press. Reach out via email: mberry@freepress.com.

Articles You May Like

Lions adding LB Ben Niemann to the roster
Netflix releases trailer, premiere date for ‘Receiver’ featuring Amon-Ra St. Brown
Notes: Chris Spielman predicts big things for Brian Branch
5 Lions that are due for a big jump in ratings on Madden 25, including one that needs to be a 99
Dannie Rogers has her recap of this year’s Lions Media Day! #detroitlions #Lions #NFL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *