One of the great modern traditions of Thanksgiving Day is the annual Detroit Lions football game.
Today was the 83rd time that the Detroit Lions faced off against a rival and this time, it will be against division rivals, the Green Bay Packers (a game which the Lions lost). However, unlike more recent contests in the past five or 10 years, the Detroit Lions sit atop the NFC North–meaning this was most likely a game that people were eager to tune in to and actually watch all the way through.
This Detroit tradition is something I participated in for many years. Even when the Lions weren’t very good, people from Metro Detroit and even all around Michigan will at least tune in for a little bit because it is part of our Thanksgiving and something uniquely Detroit. The Lions were the first team to do this, and on the rare occasion when the NFL has thought about taking the game away from Detroit, it caused an uproar; the commissioner of the league ultimately has always backed down.
I was a season ticket holder for nine out of the 10 years that Barry Sanders participated in this game–every year that he was an active player–and Sanders was worth every dollar paid during that time. For many of those years, the only reason to go to a Lions game was to watch Barry make an incredible run and lose two yards. Then a couple of plays later, he would make an even more incredible run, and break away for 30, 40, 50 yards and a touchdown.
So, I can tell you that as a die-hard Barry Sanders fan during that time, it was the shock of shocks when he announced–by fax– the day before training camp opened that he was retiring from the National Football League. This robbed the Lions of an opportunity to get a running back in the draft who, of course, would have nowhere near his caliber of play; it left a gaping hole. Ron Rivers, his immediate replacement, was never going to be able to live up to Sanders.
I can venture to say most Lions fans were PI**ED off at Barry.
However, at least in this case, time does heal all wounds, and I was very anxious to see the documentary that just came out on Amazon Prime the other day called “Bye Bye Barry,” which chronicled his career in both college and the pros. This matter of his leaving was also explored, and Barry explained why he abruptly retired after his 10th season in the league– while he was still at the top of his game.
With the special coming out earlier this week, right before the Thanksgiving Day game, I’m glad Barry recognizes and appreciates the significance of the day for Detroiters. It is the perfect time to watch this documentary.
Honored to have my film as part of so many fans’ plans today so I wanted to thank you.
— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) November 23, 2023
Here is where it is(Prime Video,) and it went number-one on Amazon as soon as it was released.
Let’s go! Retweet this for a chance to win a signed pic. pic.twitter.com/SWc7LNRbOI
— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) November 22, 2023
This documentary does an incredible job of reminding us that not only was Barry Sanders an exceptional player, but a class act as a human being. He did not crave the spotlight like most people who have achieved a level of fame–as he did–in the entertainment world; he shunned it and operated in a way that the public was just not used to seeing. He operated on his own instincts, which were right for him and were part of the whole package that made him exceptional and rare.
As any Lions fan who spent hours in the Pontiac Silverdome watching Barry perform some amazing feat, like stopping on a dime and dodging tackles would know, after the play was whistled dead, the speakers in the dome would blare Tina Turner singing “The Best”:
You’re simply the best
Better than all the rest
This documentary just reinforces what those of us in Detroit got to see up close for 10 years.
He was the best, and we were lucky enough to see a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
Even if you are not a huge sports fan, I think you will enjoy “Bye Bye Barry.”