Barry Sanders, Lions great, to Dan Campbell, new system for rebuilding franchise: "There have been hockey championships and baseball championships but Detroit is absolutely a football town... absolutely." There's a desire to win and a thirst for it. Video by Eric Woodyard (0.53).
DETROIT -- As participants were introduced to Rocket Mortgage Classics AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble on Tuesday, there was a light chant from the Detroit Golf Club of Barry, Barry and Barry.
Although the roar was not as loud as the cheers Barry Sanders received from the Pontiac Silverdome during his playing days with Detroit Lions, Hall of Fame runningback, it wasn't nearly as loud. But, more than 20 years later, he is still considered Detroit sports royalty.
Sanders, the Lions' all-time rushing leader, smiled. He retired in 1998. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy such wonderful things.
Sanders' legacy is now solidified. Grey Flannel Auctions ended Saturday's bidding for a 1990-game-used and autographed jersey from Sanders and sold it for $55,152.
Sanders now wants to see a new franchise era with long-term success.
Lions What you need to know about the Detroit Lions: Lions' free-agent signings
Analyse for each Lions draft pick
Kiper's draft grades each team
McShay's favourite pick for all 32 teams
Sanders said that while we have a lot of work ahead, he believes Dan Campbell, the new Lions coach, will be the right man for the job. He certainly came in and made an announcement. It was a huge entry, so I believe we were excited about him.
Campbell, Brad Holmes, executive vice president and general manger of Motown, was hired by Sanders. This makes Sanders -- still the Lions' biggest star -- feel different about the group.
Sanders has been through many difficult seasons and can relate to the changes. He also knows that Campbell and Holmes face a huge challenge.
It's a fantastic opportunity for the new regime. Many great sporting moments have occurred in Detroit. Sanders stated that Detroit has been home to many great sports moments, including basketball championships and baseball championships. There is a thirst for success and they will be the ones to do it. We know they are excited, and that there is a lot of work ahead. But if it were easy, everyone could do it. They are the men, so hopefully they will be.
The Lions are still struggling to find their identity, especially at Sanders' old position. They heavily rely on D'Andre Swift, second-year running back.
Sanders was a key part of Detroit's running game. He rushed for 1,000 yards each season, including 2,053 yards 1997. They have been the worst running team since 1998. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Lions have not had a 1,000-yard rusher in over ten years.
Barry Sanders is positive about the direction of the Lions under a new regime. Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports
Sanders stated that Swift is my hope and prayer.
Sanders stated that the running back position is in great shape thanks to the talent from the league.
It seems like there is a sort of ebb-and-flow to it. Sanders stated that Sanders believes there has been a shift in the past few years. Sanders stated that while there may be a shift away from certain runningbacks, you also have to look at some other running backs who have clearly continued to demonstrate the value of the running back, such as Derrick Henry. There will be more. Zeke [Elliott] had a down year last year but has been a dominant player in the league since then. There are more running backs in the league.
It doesn't matter if it's a Nick Chubb or an Alvin Kamara. There are enough guys that make people go "Oh, no!" It is important that we can both run and pass the ball. I'm trying to convey that there has been a greater resurgence in the number of men who can run the ball and show that they are valuable.