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!
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — 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.)
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.)
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)