Since Barry Sanders retired after the 1999 season fans of the Detroit Lions and the NFL alike have been left wondering two things: What if?, and Why? In his book, Sanders gives his answer to one of these questions at least, with an account of his feelings towards the end of his career as a Detroit Lion, and the factors that combined to push him to eventually say ‘enough is enough’.
This book is probably worth the purchase for the DVD that comes along with it, featuring some Barry Sanders highlights going back to his High School days, as well as College and NFL footage. I’m firmly of the opinion that every fan should never be far from some footage of Barry Sanders running the football. Whilst the DVD won’t win any awards for production or picture quality, it is footage of Barry Sanders running, and that alone will paper over a lot of flaws.
The book is not the longest, but being told by Barry Sanders himself, it is a uniquely personal account of one of the league’s greatest ever players, and gives an insight into what made him tick. Sanders has always been a unique player, and this helps to answer some of the questions left by his career. The book also contains small segments written by others, notably former players, which helps to add the kind of praise that Barry Sanders himself is too modest to give, but yet richly deserves. When all-time great defenders are talking about how impossible Sanders was to defend, you start to take notice.
These extra accounts by other NFL people help to demonstrate to the reader exactly how special Barry Sanders was, not only as a runner, but also as a man, and a teammate, something which was questioned by the fans or the media jumping to conclusions following his surprise exit from Detroit. The book helps show that Sanders was a great man, a great teammate, and perhaps the greatest running back to ever step on a field, and that he had simply lost the fire.
The book comes in glossy paper, meaning it is jam packed with pictures, which is a bonus for Barry Sanders fans, and along with the free DVD that comes with it, means that the reader is treated to more than just a story, but the images and video that goes along with it.
Barry Sanders was never comfortable with the media exposure that came along with being one of the NFL’s marquee stars, and because of this, his withdrawal from the spotlight was never given the fair treatment that it deserved by the media that were left searching for answers. Since he never gave an answer to walking away that people found palatable, they would simply make up their own reasons, and even today you will hear people down on him for ‘quitting on his team’.
In this book Barry Sanders gives his account of what happened, and why he decided to walk away from his NFL career, and from an all-time record that was within his sight, and would belong to him had he stayed playing for a year or two more. It isn’t the biggest volume of work you’ll ever pay for, but it comes with footage of one of the greatest athletes of all time, and is an account that comes straight from the heart and mind of the man himself. If you’re looking for a thick, in-depth book to keep you busy for a while, this probably isn’t for you, but if you want a real account of Sanders’ career from the man himself, complete with some pictures and DVD footage of him running, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s no lengthy novel, but it’s well worth the read.