ALLEN PARK — Twenty-six years ago today, Barry Sanders first worked his magic for the Detroit Lions.
Sanders, who had been the third overall draft pick for the Lions in 1989, was a holdout during training camp due to contract issues. So when he signed, he had just two days to prepare for his first game on Sept. 10, 1989, against the Phoenix Cardinals at the Pontiac Silverdome.
Coach Wayne Fontes didn’t start him since he didn’t know the offense.
|Boxscore with Barry Sanders' first series in debut with Lions.|
In the third quarter, Sanders made his debut. He ran on four straight plays — 18 yards, 5 yards, 3 yards and then 3 yards for a touchdown.
The official scorer added one line after that Lions’ series: “The roar seemed to be restored.’’
In my years of sports writing I’ve looked at hundreds, maybe thousands, of boxscores and never seen a comment like that.
How fitting it was for a future Hall of Famer.
Sanders finished the game with nine carries for 71 yards.
Ten years later, when he retired he had 15,269 rushing yards and 99 rushing touchdowns.
(Read more about Barry Sanders and the other Lions’ greats, in my upcoming book, “Game of My Life Detroit Lions” which will be published on Oct. 27. Pre-order here.)