Detroit Lions Black History Month Profile: Charlie Sanders
My final Black History Month Profile takes a look back at the life and career of the best tight end in the history of the Detroit Lions, Charlie Sanders.
Current Detroit Lions tight end, Eric Ebron endured a slow start, but finished the year strong in 2017. Though he has disappointed some, he still has a chance to enjoy a great NFL career.
With continued growth and production, Ebron could potentially even become as respected in Detroit as Charlie Sanders. Recently, I wrote about who I would like to see on Detroit’s all-time offense. Charlie Sanders was my choice at tight end.
Charles Alvin “Charlie” Sanders was born in Richlands, North Carolina in 1946. Like any child from the south, Sanders grew up enjoying sunshine and playing sports outdoors.
His athleticism continued to expand as he grew older and his talent wasn’t confined to one sport. He excelled at baseball, basketball, and football in high school.
His talents on the gridiron opened the doors of higher education to him. Charlie enrolled at the University of Minnesota and continued to hone his craft on the football field as a Golden Gopher.
Upon his graduation, Sanders was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 1968 NFL Draft. He was an instant star in the NFL and he was so good that he was the only rookie voted to the Pro Bowl in 1969.
Sanders’ streak of excellence spanned an entire decade from 1968-1977. During that time he cemented his legacy in Detroit.
He was a seven time Pro Bowler and a two time first team All-Pro. He was also a member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade team and was ultimately inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Essentially, the only thing that Sanders didn’t accomplish during his career was a Super Bowl win, but that doesn’t put a damper on his career.
Even in retirement, Charlie Sanders remained a fixture in Detroit. His namesake foundation provided scholarships to deserving students. His later years were dedicated towards improving the lives of community youths.
Next: Black History Month Profile - Night Train Lane
Charlie Sanders maintained an official role with the organization until his untimely death in 2015 after a bout with cancer. His legacy is most definitely one that his wife, Georgianna, and their nine children can always be proud of.