On the LionsFans.com Message Board (www.lionstalk.com), Lions fans collectively responded to a recent ESPN article that ranked former Lions' great Barry Sanders fourth among the top running backs of all time, behind Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Cowboys' running back Emmitt Smith. The ranking was compiled using lists from a panel of ESPN "experts." Ironically, in their own fan poll, over 35% of ESPN users ranked Sanders first among 10 running backs.
Check out our fan responses below:
Subject: Barry at four! Emmit at three!
I can not believe that ESPN would rank a player who can't gain more than 50 yards a game for the last few years above Barry who's career average was around 100 yards. The only reason is that he's about to break Payton's record. Well whoopty do! He would have had a sniff if Barry still played or if he had played on any other team than Dallas.....
Excuse me while i prepare for my Emmit Smith record breaking party. I only have three weeks to get ready!
Subject: Tom Jackson is a moron!
Explain to me how in the hell he can rank Sanders 10th out of those guys! Not only that, but he ranked 2 guys noton the list ahead of Barry. This guy was an average linebacker, and an even worse football analyst!
Subject: I saw this and was outraged ...
Emmit Smith is hurting his team. Plain and simple. The only reason he is not buried in the depth chart is because he's Emmit, and he's going for a landmark. They wonder why Quincy is struggling. Could it be that Smith isn't helping at all? How could you rank Emmit above quite possibly the most electrifying player EVER? Barry didn't need a QB to throw it accurately to him. He didn't need to beat a cornerback to the seam to make a catch. All Barry needed was a decent handoff and he could take it for six no matter what the field position was. If Barry were still here, Emmit wouldn't be talked about. That's another reason he should come back. I'm suck of hearing about how a guy gaining 50 yards a game is so great.
Subject: No matter what they`ll write or say ...
Barry was the greatest or at least should be named within the same breath that Payton and Brown !
I`am also sick and tired of all this E. Smith talk ! He`s or should I say was a very good RB and silenced the critics while they were saying he`s too small and too slow .... BUT he always had great support ... wether it was Troy and Irvin or an offensive line that was among the best in the league for years !
With that support Sanders would have gone 2.ooo yards EACH season !
German Lion - GO LIONS
Subject: Emmitt is sorry
Barry is the reason I started watching footall. A couple of weeks ago I saw a special on him and I started to wonder how in the hell can someone do what he possible did to other defenses. Defensive players feared playing the Lions because of him. I wasn't born to watch Jim Brown play, but Barry in my mind will always be the best ever. Emmitt, you need to retire. You say that you want to win another ring, but the fact is that the Cowgirls will never be the same and your leg stopped working about 5 seasons ago. E smith I hope you never break paytons record because you don't deserve it.
Subject: Great post!
If Barry had stuck around I don't think Emmit would be playing today. Heck, even if Barry came back next week he'd still have a good chance to break Payton's record before the season's end and would likely end up with more career yards than Smith.
Subject: a few thoughts on barry(bit long)
First of all, it doesn't matter if he doesn't get repect now because in ten years he will be the guy of legions and everyone will talk about how when they went and saw him. as a matter of fact he was a legion while he was still playing. just ask anyone who ever played or watched him play. heck only 2 or 3 people can say they took him down one on one and you know they brag about that to their kids. he is a jim thorpe level player that will be seen as one of the gods of football in years to come.
now about the teams he played on. they sucked. his oline was average on good years and he made them look good. he also had the class to thank them even though they got in the way more than helped. correct me if i'm wrong but one year the entire dallas oline went to the probowl and barry got to run behind them for a quarter and got like 100 yards. i know it is just the probowl but come on 100 yards in a quarter is good even then. he never had a qb to make the def honest either, so there were at least 8 guys in the box every single down he played. how often has any other back had to contend with that? case in point: ross was the only coach in barry's carrer that expected the oline to do specific blocks in front of barry (fontes always just had them stand up and push forward). barry had the greatest years of his career under that system and actually produced better as he got older.(to bad ross also drove him and others from the game)
Then there is the whole statistics thing. everyone looks to total yards for judging the best. that's bs (no pun intended). anyone who lasts long enough and had a great career is going to reach the record (emmit's name will not be there for long) but how about the other stats that ring true about ability on the field every game and year. (please forgive me where i am wrong and correct it cause i'm not sure where to get all this info) barry is the only guy to get over 1000 yards for 10 years i think, and he has close to the most total and consectutive 100 yard games i think. his yards per carry are amazing as well and he showed no sign of fadding as some of his best years were near the end of his career. most guys shine for a while and then wear down, but barry did the opposite. and about not having any rings: he can't win them alone no matter how good he is. no one can. even favre can't get his team there alone if they suck.
Finally, barry had a style all his own. that's what makes you great. jim brown, walter
payton, gale sayers, i know that just by reading those names you see each of their styles
in your head and marvel at what they were able to do on a football field. emmit is like
most of the good and even great backs to come along. many guys in his position on that
team would have been just as productive, but none would have made you say wow like the
legions. also barry was his own man. he doesn't care what we think he just lives his life.
he mows his own lawn, buys used cars and he played only as long as he wanted to. jim brown
did that and everyone thinks he is great for it, but barry gets bad press. his quiting
might be the best thing to happen just for gettting rid of ross and the attitude of
mediocrity of a franchise that was going nowhere with or with out him for the next several
being a legion makes him better than all but a few guys alone. barry, jim, gale, payton are all on a different planet by themselves and emmit can run all he wants but he'll never get there.
Subject: Barry was the best.
He was the most exciting too. I think he gave his all to this team. The poster who said that 'Emmit wouldn't be playing if Barry was still playing' is exactly right imo. I never thought about it like that but its true.
I wish he would have spoken up more with his thoughts on the direction the team would take. I still think it was Ross' decisions that ran him off, but Ross never claimed to be a mindreader.
The only bad thing about Barry is that he walked out on us and his team the night before training camp.
He had every right to do it, but I have every right to hate the move. 99.9% of the time I choose to remember his moves.
Subject: Barry averaged 1,500 yards per season for 10 years!!!
Nobody has done that and nobody probably ever will again. Donkey or no donkey.
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