Members of Wichita-native Barry Sanders’ family and many of his former teammates were on hand, Sept. 16 outside Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, for the unveiling of a statue of the team’s greatest player.
The 8-foot tall structure atop a 5-foot tall blue granite base depicts Sanders, mid-jump with one hand clutching a football and the other hand outstretched, his eyes wide to scope for any oncoming tacklers.
Sanders is the first Lions player to be immortalized with a statue at their home field.
Sanders played his entire 10-year career with the Lions after being selected No. 3 overall in the 1989 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State. During his pro career he gained 15,269 rushing yards and scored 109 touchdowns.
When he retired, he ranked second in NFL history behind Walter Payton in rushing yardage. He’s currently fourth on the all-time list behind Emmitt Smith, Payton and Frank Gore.
He became a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in 2004.
“The beautiful thing is it’s something that people can always see as they are sort of coming to the game, walk into the area and appreciate and see,” Sanders said. “It’s not like a trophy that is on your shelf at home. It’s a trophy that the community can appreciate and be able to enjoy.”