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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (July 29, 1999)
Sanders says he’ll retire
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP)—Barry Sanders is quitting foot
ball despite the near certainty of becoming die NFEs career
rushing leader this season.
“My desire to exit the game is greater than my desire to
remain in it I have searched my heart through and through and
feel comfortable with this decision,” Sanders said in a state
The Detroit Lions running back arrived in London
Wednesday on a flight from Detroit and said at Gatwick
Airport, “I’m going into retirement and I don’t see my plans
Asked why he came to London, Sanders said, “I don’t
know the right way to retire. This is just my way of doing it”
The 31-year-old star said he would spend a couple days in
London before going to Amsterdam and Paris.
A Lions spokesman said general manager Chuck Schmidt
had been in contact with Sanders’ agents. Sanders retired with
out speaking to Detroit coach Bobby Ross or anyone else on
the team but said he leaves “on good terms with everyone in
At a news conference this afternoon, Ross refused to spec
ulate on why Sanders retired.
“Obviously, we’re very, very disappointed because we lose
a great player,” Ross said.
“It’s a huge hole missing right now,” wide receiver Johnnie
Morton said at practice today. “I think we’re in a shock state of
never been the
things that moti
vated Barry,” Ware
told WWJ radio in
Detroit today. “Money
has never been some
Sanders will be put on the Lions’ reserve list after notify
ing the club of his retirement an NFL spokeswoman said he
can be activated any time this season until Dec. 5. If he joins
the team before then, he can play in the playoffs.
“I wish he would have given a hint,” quarterback Charlie
Batch said “I’m sure the doors aren’t closed.... He’s got a lot
of good years left in him.”
Sanders would be in position for a return because he stays
in top shape whether he is working out with die team or not.
Those who know Sanders regard him as a man of his word,
and unlikely to waver once he makes a major decision.
“From what I know about Barry, when he makes up his
mind, he makes up his mind,” Ross said.
Attempts by his agents to talk him out of retiring have been
as futile as a defender trying to arm-tackle him.
“I am not involved in a salary dispute of any kind” Sanders
said. “If I had played this season, I would have earned a more
than satisfactory salary.”
Sanders was a training-camp holdout in 1989,1991 and
1997, all related to contract negotiations. He has played two
years on a six-year, $36 million contract
Sanders is only 1,458 yards shy of breaking Walter
Payton’s NFL career rushing record. One of Sanders’ agents,
David Ware, said the prospect of the record was not enough to
change his client’s mind.
“It’ll be a distraction to
some people but it’ll tighten
us up as a team. I’m glad I
got my jersey signed (by
Sanders) last year.”
thing that motivated
Sanders rushed for 1,491
yards last season, ending a
streak of four consecutive 1,500
“Shortly after the end of last sea
son, I felt that I probably would not
return for the 1999-2000 season,” he
said. “I also felt that I should take as
much time as possible to sort through
my feelings and make sure that my
feelings were backed with conviction.”
Speculation about Sanders’reasons
for leaving include the Lions’ 5-11 finish l|
last season, Ross’ temperamental personal- i
ity and local media reaction when it became
known he was contemplating retirement. Also,
Sanders supposedly questions the Lions’ commit
ment to winning.
“I know at times, it was frustrating for him,”
In his statement, Sanders had only praise for the team and
“I truly will miss playing for the Lions,” he said. “I con
sider the Lions’ players, coaches, staff, management and
fans my family. I leave on good terms with everyone in
the organization. I have enjoyed playing for two great
head coaches, Wayne Fontes and Bobby Ross, who are i
good coaches and leaders.” J
During banders 10 seasons in Detroit, the Lions
had a 78-82 regular-season record and made the
playoffs five times, winning one playoff game.
Detroit had two 5-11 seasons sandwiched
around a 9-7 record in 1997 that earned a wild
“Football is still a game; we’re talking
about this man’s life,” tight end Walter A
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