Number 20 - Barry Sanders

There are a few Hall of Famers which could be considered as the greatest athlete to wear the number 20, including: Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Don Sutton, Lou Brock and Gino Cappelletti. I'm nominating the running back who some say is the best to ever carry the ball, Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders could move like no other running back ever moved. He would juke, dance and hurdle his way around and over defenders, when you thought for sure he would be tackled. Although he never played for a Super Bowl contender (and for most of his career with the Lions they weren't the most competitive team,) he was a perenial All-Pro and NFL standout. If you consider the "best" running back to be an all-around blocking, receiving, carrying the ball back, then Barry might not be the best. If you consider the "best" to be the most spectacular, fun to watch, productive when he had the ball back, Barry was the best ever in that category. Here are some of Barry's notable statistics:

  • Led the NFL in rushing yardage four times (1990, 1994, 1996 and 1997)
  • Rushed for over 1,500 yards in a season five times in his career
  • 1989 Rookie of the Year
  • 1997 Co-NFL MVP
  • Rushed for 2,053 yards in 1997
  • Ten time All-Pro
  • Fourth all-time in career yards from scrimmage with 18,189
Did you know......Barry Sanders was five feet, eight inches tall?

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  1. Barry Sanders delayed the rebuiding of the Lions by being one of the best EVER. The last time the Lions were champions was when I was a little kid watching a very small black and white TV.

  2. NY Jints Faithful10:36 AM

    How did Barry Sanders delay the rebuilding? He was a running back - not someone in charge of player personnel or management. If they built a team around him, they could have won championships, but in typical Detroit Lions fashion - failed to do so. He's the third best back of all time (behind Brown and Payton) and the best to wear #20 in the NFL - period.

  3. Anonymous4:17 PM

    What about Vladislav Tretiak? He played his career to the fullest! He was the first ever player to ever be inducted into the NHL hall of fame and never play a game in the NHL. The guy revolutionized goaltending. Not to mention he could do a flip over the goalie net in full goalie equipment. Barry Sanders was good, but not great. He left the game early because he needed to go and get some French Cries and a Wineken!!

  4. Anonymous2:00 PM

    Hey chicken anonymous Barry was the greatest, even Emmit, sweatness and Gale Sayers said this. Their opinion counts a bit more than your bear bellied crying. Barry did not care about breaking records. You sound like a wine baby crying because he did not break a record for you.

  5. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Where was Barry on 3rd and short? Tallying up his all time most negative yardage? 150 yards in a game is nice, but if you get it on two 75 yard runs, you don't win football games. When Barry got 2000 they stopped the game, gave him the ball, and danced him around the arena. He then promptly lost 4 yards to take his season total down to 1997. That's Barry in a nutshell.

  6. Anonymous4:31 PM

    He would have set the rushing title at unimaginable heights, maybe would have cracked 20 thousand. Who knows? he had a good 5 years left in his tank, and 20,000 wasnt out of reach. And he never-EVER spiked the ball. He truly had class

  7. Yep. Barry was a class act all the way.

  8. Anonymous4:39 PM

    So who was the only one to win the MVP award in both the American and National League?

    How many others have won the Triple Crown in batting? (league leader in HRs, RBIs and batting average)

    And how many championships did Barry Sanders help the Lions win?

    Frank Robinson won two of them with the Baltimore Orioles.

    And perhaps most telling of all...who became the first hired African-American manager in major league baseball?

    Barry Sanders? Second place.

  9. Anonymous9:33 PM

    F.Robinson is great, but he was on a team that had other great players. Barry didn't all by his lonesome with no fullback. The lions wouldn't have won anything without him and he still came to work doing his job as a professional athelete and not complain about it, until the lions didn't want to trade him and forced him a premature retirement. him leaving the game earlier under his circumstances is a disgrace to the lions franchise, just because you couldn't have him you weren't gonna let anyone else have him. GREED...sorry for the side track, its just not right for talent like barry and the person he is to be treated the way he was.

  10. Anonymous2:03 PM

    By himself? Nothing in football happens alone. Barry's pure finesse running style forced his line to open two and three seems at a time for him, meaning they were built for mobility and couldn't properly pass block. They did what they could for him, leaving alone what that did to a sorry string of QB's left with their faces in the mud. Barry doesn't have a ring for the same reason Marino doesn't. They are the two greatest one-dimensional players ever. Athletes can't be judged on what they would have done, only what they did. Barry was great, not the greatest. Not the greatest RB or the greatest #20.

  11. As a Detroiter I feel bad for Barry. I was pi$$ed when he left, but as I grow older and I realize what my dad and uncles have warned me about the Lions for years I appreciate wht he did more and more. Barry is the only thing Lions fans have as a positive memory. Sure he had alot of bad playoff games, but the organization never gave his any support. If he had wound up a Niner the Cowboy dynasty may have never happened. Barry, the best ever!

  12. Anonymous4:22 AM

    I like Barry in this spot

  13. Anonymous12:33 AM

    Greatest #20..the conversation starts with either Michael Jack Schmidt (arguably the greatest offensive and defensive 3rd baseman of all time..3 MVP's, most HR's by the 3rd basemen in MLB history and 10 Gold Gloves) or Frank Robinson (one of the top 3 RF of all time), anyone else is a distant 3rd.

  14. Anonymous6:57 PM

    Schimdt has 3 MVPS, 1 WS, 2 Pennants and a total of 6 playoff appearances. Give me a break.

  15. Honorable mention to Mike Schmidt and Ronde Barber.

  16. Anonymous3:02 PM

    Also Billy Sims, who wore the number 20 jersey for The Lions, before Barry.

  17. Anonymous3:45 PM

    How about Mike Schmidt? I cant believe no one even mentioned him

  18. Anonymous11:16 AM

    Tru that about Mike Schmidt, likely the best 3rd baseman of all time.

  19. Anonymous4:50 PM

    There are two numbers that don't need categories, #20 and #23... Barry Sanders and Michael Jordan are given!


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