Post by Matt Meyer | @Bluto51 on Twitter
The other day on Facebook, someone asked the question “who is the most dangerous player in NFL history?” Fascinating question, completely subjective, fun to discuss. The two choices this person gave were Deion Sanders and Michael Vick. Can’t argue with either guy. Sanders is the best cover corner that I’ve ever seen play, and I’ve never seen a better punt returner. I’ve also never seen a QB be able to run like Vick, plus he wasn’t short on arm talent at all.
The thought came to my mind though, in terms of most dangerous, doesn’t Barry Sanders have to rank high, if not at the top, of anyone’s list? In a ten year NFL career that easily could’ve been longer, Sanders racked up 15,269 rushing yards, 2,921 receiving yards, 109 total TD’s, ten pro bowl appearances, six first team all pro honors, four rushing championships, two offensive player of the year awards, and a highlight reel that nobody can equal. He’s the most difficult player to tackle that I’ve ever seen.
May sound strange, but I’m not certain that Sanders gets the credit he deserves. Maybe it’s his quiet, unassuming nature. Sanders is the last guy that will ever promote himself, someone who politely resists the spotlight. Maybe it’s the fact that in ten seasons with Sanders, the Lions only had five winning records, only went to the playoffs five times, and only had one playoff win. Too often, individuals get overrated or underrated based on team success or lack thereof.
The question that I referenced above was about the NFL, but nobody had a collegiate season like Barry Sanders in 1988. He set 34 NCAA records, rushed for 2,850 yards, and scored 42 rushing TD’s, 44 overall en route to winning the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year, you name it. All respect to the legendary running backs in the history of the sport…but nobody had a season like that. Brown, Griffin, Dorsett, Campbell, Sims, Walker, Williams, Peterson, Bush, many others…all incredible…none of them did what Sanders did in ’88.
I could be wrong, but I think there’s a legion of fans coast to coast that don’t understand how incredible of a talent that Barry Sanders was. Can you imagine the career numbers that he would’ve put up if he wasn’t playing with another future Hall of Famer in Thurman Thomas for two seasons? Only time that’s ever happened by the way, two Hall of Fame RB’s in the same collegiate backfield, and it happened in Stillwater.
Whether people remember it or not.