Former Lions Coach Says Barry Sanders Told Him He Wouldn't Have Retired Early on One Condition

Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders
Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders | Dave Reginek/Getty Images

It's absolutely fair to call Barry Sanders' retirement one of the greatest bombshells in NFL history. The Detroit Lions legend shockingly hung up his cleats after his 10th season. While he was no longer in his prime, he was still considered the best running back in the league.

As we know, the Lions didn't do much winning during Sanders' career, and his falling out with then-head coach Bobby Ross surely didn't help the cause. Well, according to Detroit's former quarterbacks/wide receivers coach June Jones, the Hall of Famer would've played two or three more seasons had the franchise canned Ross.

We can almost picture thousands of Lions fans breaking their screens after reading that report.

To think that Sanders decided to call it quits despite being 1,457 yards away from supplanting Walter Payton as the then-all-time leader in rushing yards speaks volumes about Detroit's ineptitude. Had the former MVP played a few more years, he likely would've edged out Emmitt Smith, the current leader who ended his career 3,086 yards ahead of Sanders.

In 10 seasons with Sanders, the Lions made the playoffs five times. However, of those five trips, four ended in the Wild Card Round. The only time the team advanced past the first cycle of postseason fixtures, it was bludgeoned by the Washington Redskins 41-10 in the 1991 NFC Championship Game.

Leave it to Detroit to choose to retain a HC in Ross that finished his tenure with the franchise with a 27-30 record over keeping the greatest player in its history happy.

Let it all out, Lions fans. This is a safe place.