NFL legend Barry Sanders helps spread the game in China
Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders will attend next Sunday's NFL Experience event in Guangzhou. In his 10-year career as a professional player, Sanders averaged over 1,500 yards per season and sits third all-time in career rushing yards. He spoke to the Sunday Morning Post earlier last week.
Q : What have you heard about the state of American football in China?
A: I know the NFL and its sponsors have been working hard to lay the groundwork and I know Chinese sports fans are some of the most loyal and dedicated in the world.
Q: Hong Kong is trying to start up a youth football programme next year. When did you start playing?
A: I started playing at a very young age. I was drawn to football and spent every minute either playing, watching or just dreaming about football. I started playing in a league when I was eight and played football every day of my life until I retired at 30.
Q: You've had a legendary NFL career. What were some of your personal highlights?
A: I played 10 amazing seasons in Detroit and have so many great memories but two always come to mind: My 2,053-yard season in 1997 was very special because I broke the record with a 50-yard run that sealed the game and got us into the play-offs. My Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2004 was a validation of my whole career. I never got a chance to play for a Super Bowl but the Hall of Fame induction showed I was still able to leave some legacy with the NFL. When you are up there with all the legends of the game in their jackets, it is very humbling.
Q: Your long touchdown runs were legendary. Do any of them stand out?
A: Wins stand out, so the runs I made in sealing wins were always the sweetest. I remember a win over Tampa Bay where I had two touchdown runs of over 80 yards. My shoe fell off during one of them.
Q: Who do you think will be in this season's Super Bowl?
A: It's always hard to predict but if you forced me to choose - Houston v Chicago.
Q: How have you been keeping active since retiring?
A: I have four sons who keep me very busy.