Lions’ Barry Sanders Shows off Skills in Slam Dunk Contest [WATCH]

Barry Sanders

Getty Barry Sanders and Lem Barney in 2015.

If Detroit Lions fans think they know everything about their former star running back Barry Sanders, they can think again. It turns out Sanders also had some very elite moves off the NFL gridiron.

Once upon a time, Sanders, who is most known for his cat quick moves on the football field, even showed off the ability to dunk the basketball on the big stage in a competition. Recently, video of Sanders doing the dunk in the early 1990s showed up on Twitter, and folks were downright impressed that Sanders had such hops to make a play.

Former NFL player and NFL Network personality Will Blackmon showed off the video, and seemed stunned himself that Sanders could do such a smooth double pump jam on the court.

Here’s the play, which ended up making Dick Vitale go crazy while being rated a solid 9.8:

The Lion King

To see Sanders able to thrive in such a contest and jam a ball isn’t that much of a shock given what he was able to do with the Lions through the years. Sanders routinely had the quickness and deft ability to break plenty of ankles on the football field and remains one of the greatest highlights in the game fans love watching even years after his retirement. Athleticism is something that came naturally to Sanders, no matter whether he was on the grass or the hardwood.

With the Lions, Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns. He was routinely thought of as the best running back in the league, and would have shattered plenty of NFL rushing records had he decided to keep playing. Sanders, however, walked away from the game in 1999 on the eve of training camp, which stunned the Lions and all of their fans. The parties then went through a frustrating split for multiple years, based mostly upon the fact that the franchise made him pay back part of his contract amid retirement. It is a situation not unlike what is happening with Calvin Johnson currently.

Still the Greatest

Since, time has healed all wounds and Sanders has patched things up with the Lions and has become engaged in their alumni group. He also makes several visits a year to games the team is playing in, and was recently named to Detroit’s All-Century team, which is a major feather in his cap given what he was able to do as a team leader and a dominating force in the franchise.

As a result of his early retirement, Sanders maintains his health and vitality and looks phenomenal. It’s not likely he could still dunk a basketball, of course, but Sanders looks healthy enough to be able to play some pickup hoops or make a move with a football for old times sake.

Most players in the league have all kinds of hidden talents, and it’s awesome that Sanders, who was more the size of a point guard, had the hops to go up and make a jam on the court. While he might not have played in the NBA, Sanders still made the stuff with relative ease.

It should only serve to make him more of a legend to his fans when all is said and done.

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