By Jay Rogers
Published December 22, 2007
Starting tailback for the Detroit Lions, Barry Sanders recently scored three touchdowns in the third game of the NFL season leading his team to victory. “The Barry Sanders’ Show” – one news network called it, but this kind of performance should come as no surprise to those who are already familiar with his career.
Barry was the Heisman Award winner of 1988, while playing for Oklahoma State, yet was surprisingly overlooked at Wichita North High School by most college recruiters, possibly because of his height – 5’8”. But it was his speed and notorious vertical leap that helped him set 13 NCAA season records in his junior year. His numbers are especially impressive since he often sat out the 4th quarter of many of OSU’s most dominant games. Barry’s college coach – Pat Jones – described his running ability as “explosive.” Barry’s kickoff touchdown returns of 100 yards plus in OSU’s first possession in each of the opening games of the 1987 and 1988 seasons is a remarkable feat. Says Coach Jones, “He takes your breath away.”
Barry was drafted by the NFL in his Junior year at OSU, and was picked up by the Detroit Lions in the first round for the following season. After earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1989 and coming within 10 yards of the rushing title, he won the rushing title outright in his second season. Last year, Barry rushed for 1,304 yards and scored a league leading 16 touchdowns.
FR: Can you tell a little bit about your family background?
Barry Sanders: I was one of eleven kids, eight sisters and two brothers. We were a close knit family. My mother is a Christian and we went to church every Sunday. She was hard working and a great inspiration for me to work hard. After all the kids were grown, she went back to school to get her degree because she always wanted to be an RN. So she went to nursing school.
FR: What about your Christian testimony? You grew up in church, but was there ever a time when you made a deeper commitment to God?
Barry Sanders: Yes, after college. Like I said, I grew up in church; I was baptized in the eighth grade, but I didn’t really understand what it meant. Then it was in college that I really had my faith tested. It was there I found out how lacking my faith was. I reached a kind of breaking point. Then I met some people who challenged me to a greater commitment – people who really loved God and were walking with God with no compromise. They weren’t afraid to get in my face and challenge me. That’s the point when I was saved.
I was really influenced through my upbringing, but then I came to a point where I had to repent for a lot of things. This happened after my last year of college, before I began playing in the NFL.
FR: Do you feel that this experience has affected your success in playing football?
Barry Sanders: Yes, of course! Christianity affects your whole life. I feel I’m more competitive, a better player, but off the field is where there is always a battle. That’s where the power came. I was always successful on the field, but now I’m successful off the field too.
FR: There has been a growing interest in Christian athletes by the media recently. I just saw a Nightline show recently featuring Reggie White (of the Philadelphia Eagles). What’s behind the new interest?
Barry Sanders: I think they’re curious. They want to know what it is. Some have bad intentions; they want to criticize us. Some have good intentions; they’re looking for something positive. All in all they’re looking for something to sell papers and magazines, and not to preach the gospel. Most are sincere; they admire us and want to portray a man who has something good.
FR: You’ve set a lot of records in the past few years. Do you have any goals for the 1991 season?
Barry Sanders: Yes, a team goal – to go to the playoffs. The Lions haven’t been to the playoffs in the last two years. This year though we have a winning mentality.
FR: Who are the teams to beat this year?
Barry Sanders: We have a tough schedule. There are a lot of good teams to beat, Minnesota, the Bears, the Bills, Dallas, and of course, the ‘49ers, but I think we can win.
FR: You said that your mother was a great influence in your life. Are there any other people who have influenced you, like your coaches? What does the name Wayne Fontes mean to you?
Barry Sanders: Coach Fontes? He’s a comfortable guy to play for. He doesn’t apply a lot of pressure. He’s a guy that’s easy to talk to. He doesn’t have an ego problem. He’s open.
FR: Who else has influenced you?
Barry Sanders: Well there’s Greg Ball (of Champions for Christ) whose been discipling me. He’s a person I can confide in and he’s helped me in keeping on track. There are a lot of people who have spoken words of correction and have prayed for me. Lakita Garth is a good friend; she has ministered to me a lot. And there’s Tom Sirotnak – he always has a good word. He is always encouraging me. I really like him – he’s on fire, man! He’s got a big heart and is a real man of God.
Editor’s note: One of the most striking aspects you will notice in talking with Barry Sanders is his humility. In the professional sports arena – a world full of big egos – Barry seems to exemplify the type of character anyone would admire. Lion’s coach Wayne Fontes is one person who has been impressed by his humble personality. On the final game of the 1989 season, Barry was within ten yards of the NFL rushing title. Coach Fontes asked Barry if he wanted to come off the bench and try to surpass the 1,480-yard record held by Christian Okoye of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Barry Sanders declined. “Let’s just win it and go home,” he said.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Sports
Your comments are welcome!
Visit The Forerunner's Discussion Forum!
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)