NFL Detroit Lions

5 Reasons Why You Can’t Blame Barry Sanders For Retiring After The 1998 Season

5 Reasons Why You Can't Blame Barry Sanders For Retiring After The 1998 Season

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Barry Sanders, the Lions' greatest player in franchise history and one of the best running backs of all time, completed his 10th consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season in 1998. But instead of coming back, Sanders waked away.

Sanders retired from the Lions and the NFL less than 1,500 yards away from breaking Walter Payton's all-time rushing record.

Here are 5 reasons why you can't blame Sanders for retiring prematurely from the Lions.

5. Offensive Line Departures

Kevin Glover Lions
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5. Offensive Line Departures

Kevin Glover Lions
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During the end of Sanders' run in Detroit, Sanders lost two of his top blockers and two Pro Bowl players in left tackle Lomas Brown and center Kevin Glover.

Brown was let go after the 1995 season and Glover was released in 1997. These two helped Sanders reach 1,000 yards rushing for a majority of his career. The Lions have not had another Pro Bowl offensive lineman since Glover's departure.

4. Terrible QB Play

Scott Mitchell Lions
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4. Terrible QB Play

Scott Mitchell Lions
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Sanders played with exactly zero Pro Bowl quarterbacks in his time in Detroit.

Sanders did pretty much everything by himself behind some awful quarterbacks. From Scott Mitchell to Andre Ware and even Charlie Batch, the Lions did nothing to give Sanders an established field general behind center. 12 different quarterbacks took snaps with Sanders in the backfield from 1989-98.

3. GM Chuck Schmidt

Detroit Lions
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3. GM Chuck Schmidt

Detroit Lions
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Former Lions GM Chuck Schmidt was around for each of Sanders' 10 seasons in Detroit, but instead of going forward, Schmidt made the Lions go backwards.

Schmidt would fire coach Wayne Fontes in 1996, the most successful coach in Lions history, and replace him with Bobby Ross. Schmidt would also get rid of former Pro Bowl players in Brown, Glover, Brett Perriman, Chris Spielman and Jerry Ball. Schmidt won only one playoff game in 12 seasons.

2. Owner William Clay Ford

William Clay Ford Lions
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2. Owner William Clay Ford

William Clay Ford Lions
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The now deceased owner of the Lions, William Clay Ford never was serious about winning a championship.

Ford was pretty much non-existent in terms of football operations and was seemingly happy about just making money. Ford has been synonymous with losing for the better part of half a century.

1. Coach Bobby Ross

Bobby Ross Lions
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1. Coach Bobby Ross

Bobby Ross Lions
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Sanders has said that Ross was not the main problem in his retirement, but in reality, he was.

Ross tried to instill his disciplined approach to the Lions, which caused resentment from the players. Ross also tried to have Sanders play behind a fullback, which he had never done before. Ross' personnel decisions and poor draft picks suggested that the Lions were in rebuilding mode, which Sanders resented and ultimately drove him to retirement.