Home Local News Lions to immortalize Barry Sanders with statue at Ford Field

Lions to immortalize Barry Sanders with statue at Ford Field

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DETROIT — The Detroit Lions announced Sunday they’ll unveil an eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Barry Sanders at Ford Field before the start of next season.

Sanders never played at Ford Field, retiring three years before it opened in 2001, but his place among the franchise’s history remains as strong as ever.

“It is with immense pride that we share the news that we will be honoring the greatest running back in the history of football with a statue in the city we represent,” Lions owner Sheila Hamp said in a statement.

“Generations upon generations of fans will learn about Barry and his contributions not only to the Lions, but to the game of football. He is truly in a class of his own, and while we may never see a player quite as electrifying or elusive again, Barry’s legacy will live forever and be tangible right here in Detroit.”

The announcement came a year after Oklahoma State unveiled its own statue of the legendary running back at Boone Pickens Stadium. Sanders played at OSU from 1986-88, winning the Heisman trophy in 1988 in one of the greatest single-season performances in college football history.

The Lions chose Sanders with the third overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, setting a precedent for college juniors to declare for the draft before their senior years. He went on to put together a Hall of Fame career in Detroit before abruptly retiring in the prime of his career ahead of several rushing record milestones.

Sanders acknowledged in his autobiography his frustrations with management and the direction of the franchise led to his retirement. He later became an ambassador for the Lions, becoming a mainstay at games and team functions.

He’ll be the first player in the franchise’s history to be honored with a statue.

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