DETROIT — After 17 years, the wait is over. Legendary Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders is ending his retirement, announcing today that he will resume the career he cut short in 1998 after rushing for 1,491 yards at age 30.
Sanders said the team’s improvement from his last season when they went 5–11 to today’s team that sits atop the NFC North at 8–4 is what prompted his decision.
“Honestly, I wanted to come back a long time ago, but I was waiting until we were legit contenders. I was tired of losing,” said Sanders, now age 48. “I think the way Matthew Stafford is playing we have a chance to do some damage. I feel rested. I feel fresh. I feel ready.”
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said he is excited to add Sanders to a rushing attack that is 29th in the NFL. Sanders will immediately get the start over Theo Riddick at running back this week against the Bears.
“I expect Barry to be a little rusty,” said Caldwell. “Even someone as great as him will need a week or two to get his legs under him after 17 and a half seasons on the sideline. But if you’re going to play any team to warm up against, it’s the Chicago Bears. No offense to the Bears, of course.”
Sanders also reached out to former Lions receiver Calvin Johnson about coming out of his early retirement, but Johnson said he will not considering playing football again until the league realizes what a catch is.