Emmy-Nominated Series Continues Wednesday, December 5 at 8:00 PM ET
“I just felt like I had run out of steam. I just felt like it was my time.” – Barry Sanders
For 10 seasons, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders electrified the NFL with unbelievable runs while putting up prolific rushing numbers. Yet just before the start of the 1999 NFL season, as one of the league’s biggest stars, he quietly walked away from the game.
NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated series A Football Life continues Wednesday, December 5 at 8:00 PM ET with a profile of one of the NFL’s greatest players who retired during the prime of his career. Barry Sanders: A Football Life examines Sanders’ incredible Hall of Fame career, his unexpected retirement and the reaction it garnered throughout both the NFL and the city of Detroit, and his relationship with his late father, William.
The one-hour documentary features a sitdown interview with Sanders in which he discusses his fascinating football life. The NFL’s third all-time leading rusher talks about how he was overlooked in high school, his decision to attend Oklahoma State, the unwanted media attention that came as a result of winning the Heisman Trophy award in 1988 and being an NFL superstar, and the lessons he imparts to his children, including his son BJ Sanders, a redshirt freshman running back at Stanford University.
Additional interviews include fellow Hall of Fame running backs Emmitt Smith and Curtis Martin, former teammates Thurman Thomas, Herman Moore, Kevin Glover and Lomas Brown, former Lions head coaches Wayne Fontes and Bobby Ross, and Hall of Fame guard for the Detroit Pistons, Joe Dumars, among others.
Barry Sanders: A Football Life also includes past interviews with his father and Barry reading the statement he released to the Wichita Eagle announcing his retirement for the first time publically.
Barry Sanders: A Football Life includes interviews with the following people:
Byron Sanders – Barry’s brother
Lynn Sanders – Barry’s sister
BJ Sanders – Barry’s son
Emmitt Smith – Hall of Fame running back
Joe Dumars – Detroit Pistons Hall of Fame guard
Curtis Martin – Hall of Fame running back
Dale Burkholder – Barry’s high school football coach
Thurman Thomas – Hall of Fame running back & teammate of Barry at Oklahoma State
Mark McCormick – Barry’s childhood friend/Wichita Eagle reporter
Jim Brandstatter – Lions announcer
Herman Moore – Lions wide receiver, 1991-2001
Kevin Glover – Lions center, 1985-97
Wayne Fontes – Lions head coach, 1988-96
Bobby Ross – Lions head coach, 1997-2000
Chuck Schmidt – Lions executive vice president, 1989-2001
Lomas Brown – Lions offensive tackle, 1985-95
Emmy-nominated actor from CBS’ The Good Wife, Josh Charles, narrates.
For the first look at Barry Sanders: A Football Life, visit:
Following are select quotes from Barry Sanders: A Football Life:
– “I just felt like I had run out of steam. I just felt like that was my time. That was it, I had enough; I had played the game long enough, and that real drive and determination and enjoyment of the game had left.” – Barry Sanders
– “You can’t ask a person in Detroit what your favorite run of Barry [is] because that would say there were just a handful and you can remember one. This guy did something special every single Sunday.” – Joe Dumars
– “They interviewed Barry Switzer, the head coach at the University of Oklahoma, and he said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t hurt Thurman, because they have a backup freshman running back named Barry Sanders and you will never tackle him.’” – Thurman Thomas
– “No matter what year – you can say 1920 and you can say 2012 – he will still be the best running back in the NFL any given time.” – Curtis Martin
– “The Lions needed a franchise player. They needed a brand and Barry had that flash. He had that ability to light a place up.” – Jim Brandstatter
– “Barry is not a rah-rah kind of a guy. He’s not a guy that is out there. He’s not a guy that is going to talk a whole lot, unlike myself.” – Emmitt Smith
– “It mattered that I was playing against Emmitt. He had certainly made a name for himself at that point, and I certainly wanted to put my best foot forward.” – Sanders on playing the Dallas Cowboys in the 1991 NFC Divisional Game
– “When you look at when Emmitt Smith ended up getting that honor [of becoming the NFL’s all-time leading rusher], a lot of people looked at it and said, ‘Well, there’s an asterisk beside it; you got it because Barry no longer wanted to play.’” – Herman Moore
– “Sometimes when people retire, it’s almost an opportunity for their close-up. Barry wanted to exit stage right.” – Mark McCormick
Below is the remaining broadcast schedule for A Football Life, airing on Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM ET:
- December 12 – Marcus Allen
- December 19 – The Immaculate Reception
Airing throughout the NFL season, A Football Life examines the iconic individuals and subjects that have had an undeniable and profound impact on the history of the National Football League, offering an inside look into their untold stories.
Every episode of A Football Life and all NFL Network programming is streamed live on NFL Mobile from Verizon, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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