William Sanders, the father of Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, has died at the age of 74 from lymphoma.
When Barry Sanders entered the Hall of Fame it was his father who introduced him at the ceremony. Though the two had vastly different personalities, William Sanders had a profound impact on Barry’s life. He recounted one story from a ride home after a high school football game during his Hall of Fame induction speech:
He asked me, ‘Barry, why weren’t you catching the punts?’ And I was like, ‘Well, daddy, it was a close game, and I didn’t want to run up and drop the punt and cause us to lose the game.’ He said, “Son, you can play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Don’t be scared to make mistakes. In life you’re going to make some mistakes. Even if you wanted to stay in bed all day and avoid the world, that’s not the answer, especially in the game of football. You’re going to make some mistakes. Go out and play the way you’re capable of, the coach has you in there for a reason, he has confidence in you.”