Ahead of their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks, the Detroit Lions honored former NFL player Barry Sanders with an 8-foot bronze statue outside of Ford Field. Sanders is widely regarded as one of the best running backs to ever play the game. He is known for his elusive running style, details of which were captured in the statue’s pose.
Sanders was impressed by the statue.
“Little things like the cut-off gloves that I wore and obviously the very alert eyes,” Sanders told ESPN. “I haven’t had a chance to really soak it in, but those were some of the things I noticed, and obviously sort of the pose is like I’m in action.”
Sanders’ statue was created by Illinois-based Fine Arts Studio Rotblatt Amrany, the same studio that made Michael Jordan’s statue outside Chicago’s United Center and Magic Johnson’s statue outside the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, among other memorable sports legends.
During the ceremony, a tribute video featuring highlights from Sanders’ playing days as well as tributes from fellow NFL Hall of Fame members Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, and Peyton Manning, played. The ceremony was not open to the public, but some current Lions players were in attendance.
It’s official! Here’s your first look at the 8-foot bronze statue of #Lions great Barry Sanders — one of the greatest players in NFL history. He is the 1st Lions player to receive a statue. pic.twitter.com/utDAksffbk
Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs, whom the team selected with its number 12 overall pick in this past NFL Draft, told ESPN he was inspired to see his idol rewarded with a statue.
“That’s amazing for anybody to get a statue,” Gibbs said. “It shows that he had a big impact on Detroit, and it shows how thankful the city is for him. I’m happy. Hopefully, I can get one of them one day.”
Amon-Ra St. Brown, another one of Detroit’s young playmakers, told ESPN that his memories of Sanders were tied to his father.
“I played running back my whole life, until I got to high school, and my dad would always show me highlights of Barry. That was the guy. He said he was the ‘coldest dude out.’ So, when I was a kid, I was Barry all the way. Barry and Reggie Bush. Those were my guys, and just watching his highlights, I would be like, ‘This dude is crazy.’ Just being here now, with him getting a statue as one of the best to ever do it, in the entire NFL history, is cool,” St.Brown said.
The all time rushing record was later broken by Emmitt Smith, but Sanders has cast a long shadow over the record due to his impressive production during his stellar NFL career. Sanders is the first and only Detroit Lions player to receive the honor of a statue and was appreciative of the gesture from the organization saying at the ceremony.
“You heard the saying that you give a person their flowers while they’re around,” Sanders said. “I don’t plan on going anywhere any time soon, I’m just saying that saying … but if this statue could be used with that analogy, then I would have to say this is one heck of a bouquet for me, so thanks a lot. I appreciate it.”
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Source: Black Enterprise