Barry Sanders talks about why he retired in prime of his career

Barry Sanders speaks at a promotional event in Shanghai.
(Associated Press)

Former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders talks about the much-discussed issue of his early retirement on the new NFL Network documentary “Barry Sanders: A Football Life.”

Sanders said he thought long and hard about retiring before the 1999 season.


“Over the next few years it looked like we would probably be rebuilding and we had gotten rid of some good players,” Sanders said. “I just felt like it was time to make a change.

“I knew going into the final game of the season before that was pretty much it, so I remember after the game I just broke down. I didn’t really say what was going on. I was glad to get out of there.”

Sanders also says that the fact he was only 1,500 yards short of Walter Payton’s career record for rushing yards wasn’t enough to entice him to stay.

“I understood full well who Walter Payton was, what he accomplished,” Sanders said. “Not just Walter Payton, with all the guys that had tried to do what Walter did. The record for me wasn’t important enough to force myself to stay around to try to get the record.”



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