Detroit Lions: Hall-of-Famer Charlie Sanders Remembered


Former Detroit Lions tight end and Hall of Fame inductee, Charlie Sanders was remembered in Rochester Heights, Michigan on Saturday.

Members of the Lions community were present at the service for Sanders, including names like Jim Caldwell, Lions owner Martha Ford and Lions president Tom Leward.

Also at SLR: 5 Questions with Detroit Lions Rookie, Alex Carter

While it was indeed a somber day in the Motor City, Lions fans and organization members were also able to reflect on the good that Charlie Sanders brought upon the world.

Sanders was a tight end for the Detroit Lions from 1968 – 1977.

He graduated from James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina where he was a football, baseball and basketball star. Post-high school he attended the University of Minnesota where he was eventually selected by the Lions in the third round of the 1968 NFL Draft.

Following his selection, he became the teams starter where he established 336 career receptions for 4,817 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Live Feed

2023 NFL Offseason: Ranking the three worst offseason moves
2023 NFL Offseason: Ranking the three worst offseason moves /

With the First Pick

  • The best rookie matchup each week of the NFL seasonWith the First Pick
  • Record for every NFL team based on their current odds as favorites or underdogsBetsided
  • 10 best individual player rivalries in NFL historyFanSided
  • 5 must-win games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2023FanSided
  • Predicting each division winner for the 2023 NFL seasonWith the First Pick
  • He was also known as a superior blocker.

    He was chosen for the Pro Bowl seven times (1968–1971 and 1974–1976). Following being the only rookie named to the 1969 Pro Bowl, Sanders was named to the All-Pro First Team for the 1970 and 1971 seasons, receiving the most votes of any player in both years.

    Unfortunately, in 1976, Sanders suffered a career ending knee injury which ended his career. Sanders was named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team as selected by voters of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    After his career, Sanders served as a broadcaster and scout for the Detroit Lions.

    Sanders served as an analyst on Lions radio broadcasts from 1983 through 1988, worked with the team as an assistant coach in charge of wide receivers from 1989 to 1996, returned to perform radio broadcasts in 1997, and then joined the Lions’ front office as a scout.

    More from Lions News

    He became the team’s assistant director of pro personnel in 2000, and held the role until his passing last week. He also worked in the team’s community relations department and served as a spokesman for the United Way and The March of Dimes.

    He created The Charlie Sanders Foundation in 2007, which provided two college scholarships per year for students from Oakland County, Michigan.

    Sanders developed a malignant tumor behind his right knee, which was discovered while he was undergoing knee replacement surgery. Sanders underwent chemotherapy, but would eventually succumb to the cancer last week. 

    Sanders built many lasting relationships with teammates in Detroit, including Greg Landry, Lem Barney, Mel Farr, Joe Schmidt and Mike Lucci — all of whom were among those in attendance on Saturday. Barney and Farr were at Sanders’ side the day he passed.

    Former Lions coach Wayne Fontes said the first time he met Sanders, the former tight end came into his office and asked for a coaching job. He had no experience, but promised Fontes he would work tirelessly to succeed. He would evenatually take over coaching the wide receiver corps, which included Herman Moore and Brett Perriman.

    Next: Meet the 2015 Detroit Lions Coaching Staff

    More from SideLion Report