Sunday, June 26, 2005


Something interesting happened during the NBA Finals.
Do you remember the night Barry Sanders sat next to Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo chatting?
First they showed Izzo on the big screen and he got the usual cheers.
But something interesting happened when they showed Sanders on the big screen. He not only was cheered but a good chunk of the Palace crowd began the old "Barry" chants we used to hear routinely at the Pontiac Silverdome during Sanders' hey day.
Those chants continued right up to his sudden retirement. The day Sanders faxed his hometown newspaper and bolted for England was the day the cheers dried up.
Cheers to jeers.
It was embarrassing to see Sanders at games because you just hope they never showed him on the big screen. Sanders always had that sheepish look on his face when folks belted him with boos.
There was even a luke warm response for Sanders when the Lions showed his acceptance speech into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the big screen during an open Lions practice at Ford Field.
Since then he made peace with the Lions and the community and it seems as if Detroit sports fans forgave Sanders.
I know of a number of people who said they would never forgive Barry. My guess is those numbers have dwindled over the years. Most have made peace with Sanders.
That doesn't surprise me because Sanders was one of those athletes you could not criticize. He had more rabid supporters than Steve Yzerman.
They left him when Sanders left them. Now they have returned.
Jeers back to cheers.


Blogger Steve-oh said...

Good point, Terry. I think there was some initial anger by fans - not that the Lions were going to win the Super Bowl, but we had gotten used to seeing greatness each week from a team wallowing in decades of mediocrity.

Time has helped us realize that we saw something very special for a decade. I also think the fact Barry didn't bolt town and is OK with showing his face is a help.

I know I cheered loudly for Barry when the Lions had the jersey ceremony last Thanksgiving. All has been long forgiven.

8:13 PM

Anonymous Matt S. said...

Agreed, I loved B. San. I grew up dazled by his performance on the field. He was something else, and even when he retired and went about his business, i wasn't a happy fan about it, but i never thought any different of him. I've always looked at him as in my opinion the best RB to play the game and was glad i was able to grow up watchin him do what he did best.

10:15 PM

Blogger Tom said...

I was very angry at BS for a long time. Yeah, the guy had a right to retire when he wanted, yeah he gave his all for years and years to the fans. I accept that. But it's the way he did it. He punked out on the fans, he punked out on the team, and without as much as a "sorry". Even to the day he held his press conference at Ford Field, Barry never said sorry for what he did to the fans. His belief was that he gave to the fans during his playing time, that should be enough.

But it's not. You can't just quit on a marriage by saying see ya and not get hatred. You can't cut out on a friendship suddenly and expect no animosity. The fans loved Barry and the way he played. You can't just turn that off one day because you want out. That's when the love turns to hate. The way Barry did it, his total disappearance from the public eye, his total refusal to speak to the Detroit fans, was bad and led to bitter feelings.

Just imagine if Ben Wallace suddenly said see ya, I'm all done. I'm packing up, moving out, and no I won't talk to the media. No thanks for cheering me and supporting me for 7 years, no appreciation for turning out and buying the jerseys. Of course you'd be pissed off. No matter what he did while he played, it doesn't give him a right to piss on the fans when he retires.

The turning point for me is when I heard him say on Parker and The Man about a year ago that he made a mistake when he retired and didn't give the fans more respect. That and the way he has treated the fans and his willingness to put himself out in the public for the fans. I think he realizes that he screwed up and is trying to make ammends.

So, I won't boo him anymore. Time heals some of the bitterness. His actions have healed more. But I still don't feel the same as I did when he was a player. Is that selfish? I guess, but the fan-athelete relationship is a selfish, one sided one by nature. Barry isn't the enemy anymore, but he's not the hero either.

10:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Tom. That last paragraph is pure gold.

2:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Terry,

Since you're so in love with Derrick Coleman, I wonder what your reaction is to him being # 15 on the list of all time NBA Draft Busts. Here's what SI said:

"DC enjoyed a 15-year career, averaging a double-double five different times, while making the All-Star team in '94. That's nothing to sneeze at, unless you consider that he did all this while expending the least amount of effort possible, gliding by on an NBA-ready body and a superior touch. He also drove a series of coaches to the unemployment line and to multiple types of therapy. Coleman could have been the best power forward ever; instead he played just well enough to ensure his next paycheck."


7:40 AM

Anonymous Jeremy said...

Could it be detroit has finally forgiven barry because we finally have a running back to replace him?

11:54 AM

Blogger Ian C. said...

Tom echoes my thoughts: I'll always think that the way Barry welched on his teammates the day before training camp stinks. And how about giving the Lions time to find a suitable replacement for that season? He didn't care about any of that.

But steve-oh's right: Barry has stuck around town and that is BIG with Detroiters (and Michiganders). We love any athlete or celebrity that loves this area.

12:03 PM

Blogger Ian C. said...

By the way, how great is streaming audio when you get T-Fos dropping A-Bombs on the air, instead of getting dropped out?

12:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Cameo on the big show!

Very interesting topic, hope I see a blog entry with your detailed thoughts on that.

Oh yeah- you had a nice article in the news this morning, good to know they still appreciate your work.

5:58 PM

Blogger billionaire said...

Jeremy you need to be corrected Barry can never be replaced. He is that kind of players who comes along once in a blue moon. Just like jordan. I was in houston at the time Barry was doing his thing as a child. He literrally was the reason to watch the Lions. I know fans were hurt how he left but to us outsiders we appreciated him tremendously and we also saw how the Lions squandered his talent. It is good to see fans finally give him his due although I know there are some who still won;t let go I say get a life and apprecaite his greatness. I still maintain Emmit Smith is the rushing leader by default. Terry I noticed SNL is following you and mIkes Lead with the blog deal what;s next there going to have a web site like you guys

8:47 PM

Blogger The_Real_Right_Way said...


I'm with you, had Barry had Emmetts line and other talent at QB, WR, FB. Barry's records would be untouchable.

Emmett is not in the top 5 backs in my opinion.

10:32 PM

Blogger T Foster said...

Yeah DC was my boy. I still like him and enjoy talking to him when I see him. I don't know if he is one of the top busts of all time but he should have done better.
When he is on he is one of the top power forwards of all time. He should have taken the game more seriously. By the time he did I don't think he had the health to pull it off.

9:07 AM

Blogger T Foster said...

I think Detroit forgave Barry because he finally reached out and explained himself.

9:07 AM

Blogger T Foster said...

Oh that did not get dumped yesterday when you were streaming? Opps. I guess I am going to have to watch my potty mouth. I just get too excited sometimes.

9:08 AM

Anonymous jeremy said...

although he is not the same as barry, kevin jones is a suitable back. and that's the first time we have been able to say that since he left us at training camp. i just think it could be one of the factors. I'm a little more over it because we have someone who can carry the ball.

10:11 AM

Blogger Erick said...

I was never a Barry "hater" though how he left did leave a bad taste in my mouth...but time has passed, and Terry's right, instead of just disappearing Barry talked things out a bit. Detroit just needed that closure. One of the downsides of being so attached to our sports teams. We get those highs when you win a championship, but if something happens like Barry, people take it too seriously.

12:47 PM

Blogger T Foster said...

Closer is so important to Detroit. Barry initially did not give us that. Once he did Detroit becomes a very forgiving town. Thats just us.

2:58 AM


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