Last fall, the Detroit Lions announced they will finally raise a statue honoring Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders sometime during the 2023 season. The actual date of said unveiling had yet to be determined, for months that have followed.
Tuesday morning, perhaps not coincidentally with Sanders being on site at Allen Park for the first joint practice against the New York Giants, it was announced the statue will be unveiled the day before the Sept. 17 home opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
As reported by ESPN's Eric Woodyard, the event to unveil Sanders' statue will not be open to the public. That may explain having it the day before the game, and it likely came at Sanders' behest to be a private event. Fans will just have to wait until game day the next day to see the statue.
Barry Sanders finally getting honor he richly deserves
Clearly not someone who courts any sort of pomp and circumstance (see how he announced his retirement, even for 1999), Sanders was not honored by Oklahoma State for his exemplary college career there until November of 2021 with his induction into the Ring of Honor.
Sanders is the first Lions player to be honored with a statue, and no one in franchise history deserves it more. 10 Pro Bowls. Six All-Pro teams. A league MVP award (in a 2,000-yard season), top five on the NFL's all-time rushing list and a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2004. He has resurfaced as a part of the Lions' franchise in recent years, serving as a brand ambassador since 2017.
Sanders should already have a statue outside Ford Field. But what was a fractured relationship with the franchise for many years has been repaired. So he will, however he may begrudge the attention, finally get the permanent honor he deserves with a rendering of his playing likeness outside the stadium.