Detroit Lions Unveil Statue To Honor 1988 Heisman Winner Barry Sanders

The Detroit Lions unveiled a statue of 1988 Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders on Sept. 16, 2023 / Credit: Detroit Lions

When it comes to statues, Barry Sanders is a bit of a connoisseur. 

After all, he’s the proud owner of the 1988 Heisman Trophy, as famous a statue as there is in sports.

And almost two years ago, the folks at Sanders’ alma mater, Oklahoma State, unveiled a beautiful statue of the former Cowboy running back great located just outside Boone Pickens Stadium.

This past weekend, the Heisman legend was honored again as the Detroit Lions — home to Sanders’ entire 10-year NFL Hall of Fame career — debuted its own statue dedicated to Sanders.

The eight-foot statue sits just outside of Detroit’s Ford Field and is a snapshot in time of Sanders in a Lions’ uniform. You can imagine Sanders cutting back against an invisible defender, which is how he made most actual defenders look in his playing days.

Sanders finished his career with 15,269 career rushing yards and is fourth all-time on the NFL career chart. No Heisman winner has rushed for more yards in the NFL. Tony Dorsett is the next closest at 12,739.

Sanders is the first player in Detroit’s franchise history to have a statue made in his honor.

“You heard the saying that you give a person their flowers while they’re around,” said Sanders during the ceremony on Saturday (Sept. 16). “I don’t plan on going anywhere any time soon, I’m just saying. … But if this statue can be used with that analogy, then I would have to say this is one heck of a bouquet for me.” 

Adding to the special weekend, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed that Sept. 17, 2023 as “Barry Sanders Day” in Michigan.

You can watch the entire ceremony below.