Phil Mickelson Excited to Connect With ‘Special’ Barry Sanders

Phil Mickelson

Getty Phil Mickelson gives the thumbs up while playing at the Travelers Championship.

Barry Sanders dominated for years with the Detroit Lions, and everyone was watching him who was a sports fan, Phil Mickelson included.

Mickelson is in Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic stop on the PGA Tour, and as part of that, he played in a Pro-Am at Detroit Golf Club this week before the tournament gets underway. Before Mickelson teed off, he took time out to talk about how special it is to connect with Sanders.

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As Mickelson told Brad Galli of WXYZ-TV, he loves the experience of getting to connect with an athlete like Sanders not only to enjoy the camaraderie but to get an inside look at the mind of yet another professional athlete on top of his game at the highest level.

Mickelson explained:

“Really cool, because I enjoyed watching him performing and seeing him be the best in the game and being the best at what he does, so it’s special to be able to talk to him and ask him some of the things he did to be the best. Because to be as great as he was at his sport, you have to be willing to do things others aren’t. I’m curious what those things are.”

Perhaps Mickelson can learn some additional lessons from Sanders that might help to prolong his own career. Fans of the Lions and of golf might not mind that outcome one bit.

Sanders’ Career Stats

As Mickelson seems to understand, to see Sanders run the ball for Lions fans through the years was to believe given what he was able to do with the team on the field. 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, something that was constantly proved with every big play he turned in.

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 has been happening with Calvin Johnson up until recently.

Mickelson Doesn’t Need Much Help Being Great

Quotes like this just show the obsession Mickelson has with being the best and remaining on top of his craft well into the future. He’s already proven how great he can be by becoming the oldest player ever to win a major championship, but obviously, he isn’t satisfied as this quote shows. Most golfers would just be thrilled to meet players like Sanders at their PGA stops, but Mickelson seems to want to glean information from him in his pursuit of greatness.

Obviously, with 6 major championships in his back pocket, Mickelson doesn’t need too much assistance, but it’s clear he still wants to pick the brain of other great athletes, which is very cool to note.

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