Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Barry memorable occasion

Barry Sanders was undoubtedly my favorite Detroit Lion.
His ability to run with the football was absolutely amazing. He could brake quicker than a hyperactive Ferrari entering a speed trap. He could change directions more rapidly than a 12-point buck who finds itself jogging into a National Rifle Association picnic.
Sanders provided more highlight film material than anyone who carried the ball before him, and anyone who has carried it since.

It was his misfortune to be with an organization as inept as the Lions. While the team  had some good seasons with Sanders in the huddle, it never even came close to reaching the greatness of its greatest player.
Who can blame Sanders when he abruptly up and left for good? How much punishment -- both mental and physical -- could one guy take?
Sanders is signing autographs at the DC Sports store at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights on Saturday, Feb. 9.
That sounds intriguing, but I am just not an autograph guy. In fact, I think the only one I ever got as a kid was from John Gordy, an offensive lineman with the Lions, when he was a speaker at a youth football banquet in my hometown. I was probably nine years old, and my gut was full of chicken, peas and mashed potatoes.
The only other autograph I have is from Muhammad Ali. I had the good fortune to visit Ali's house in Berrien Springs with my friend and former Michigan boxing commissioner Stuart Kirschenbaum a handful of years ago. The former champion signed some boxing gloves.
I figured I would cherish the glove because I'm a huge boxing fan and an even bigger fan of Ali's, but these days the red leather glove is down in the baseman resting somewhere in close proximity to the furnace.
If I was going to get another autograph, it would be from Barry Sanders. Only I am not wide-eyed enough. As much as I marveled at his running, I just don't think that highly of a person's signature.
It might be because of this occupation, whereI have seen plenty of the biggest stars in sports up close and personal. They are much more like you and I than most of us can imagine.
Still, the best Barry Sanders story I can muster occurred far away from the football field. I was eating at the food court at Great Lakes Crossing with my famly one summer evening and Sanders came in to pick up a carryout order of General Tsao chicken or something like that. We were sitting at a table near the counter where he was picking up his order, and he looked my way. We had some minor league semblance of a relationship because I was doing a lot of work for the Detroit Lions back then, and Barry Sanders smiled and nodded.
The kids still talk about that, and they do not qualify as kids any longer. They are much older. A couple of them have kids themselves.
I'll take a nod over an autograph any day. And that is no B.S.


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