This isn’t a spoiler alert. I am not going to share the best parts but I did get an advanced copy of the NFL Network’s “Barry Sanders: A Football Life” documentary that airs tonight at 8 p.m.
If you don’t have NFL Network, get yourself out to a bar or something because this is amazing stuff.
It shows Sanders’ father William in an entirely different light. Emmitt Smith is hilarious. And the old footage of Barry brings back so many good memories for Lions fans.
For me, hearing Mark Champion’s call on some of those runs raised the hair on my arms. I love Dan Miller like a brother, but for that team at that time, no other voice but Champion’s could bring it to life for me. It was like hearing an old call by Ernie Harwell or George Kell or Bruce Martyn. Awesome stuff.
From an historic point of view, though, the documentary was at its best in breaking down Sanders’ reasons for sudden retirement. It debunks some of the old conspiracy theories, puts some of the heat on Chuck Schmidt and the Lions, but stops short of portraying Barry as embittered.
I will share this one quote from the film (and if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading right now). Sanders, talking about his decision to leave the game:
“Over the next few years it looked like we would probably be rebuilding. We had gotten rid of some good players. I just felt like it was time to make a change. I knew going into that last game (of the 1998 season) that was pretty much it. So I remember after the game I just broke down. I didn’t really say what was going on. I was glad to get out of there.”