Ranking All 10 Seasons of Barry Sanders' NFL Career
In 1989, the Detroit Lions drafted a 5'8" running back out of Oklahoma State. The tiny, shifty speedster was coming off a collegiate season in which he was dubbed a consensus All-American, the Maxwell Award winner, and the Walter Camp Player of the Year.
He also won a little thing called the Heisman Trophy. You might've heard of it.
You're probably thinking, "That little dude must have had some year!" And you'd be more than right -- that little dude had the granddaddy of college years.
The Wichita native set the NCAA records for rushing yards (2,628) and touchdowns (37) in a single season, averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
Thus was born the legend of Barry Sanders.
Sanders was picked third in the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, and for the next ten years, he did lots and lots and lots of cool football things. Six years after playing his last down, Sanders was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where he ranks third all-time with 15,269 career rushing yards.
With the start of the 2017 NFL season in sight, it's time to remember what Barry brought to the field -- and what better way to do that then by ranking all 10 of his seasons.
Pro Football Reference's approximate value (AV) method is best equipped to tackle this type of ranking. AV puts a single number on each player's season (back to 1960) so we can compare those seasons across positions, years, and eras. It's common for approximate values to be identical, so we'll break any ties by total rushing plus receiving touchdowns (RRTD).
Without further delay, let's honor one of the best running backs the sport has ever seen.