Barry Sanders the 2nd best running back of all time?

Barry Sanders

Here’s another one of those debates that rages on and on: Who’s the best NFL running back of all time? analyst Gil Brandt, who spent 28 years as the Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel, revisited that question after the retirement of LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday.

And he’s got Lions legend Barry Sanders at No. 2, right behind Jim Brown.

“My favorite memory of Sanders came before he’d even taken a single NFL snap, at Oklahoma State’s pro day back in 1989,” Brandt writes. “Sanders was fresh off one of the most dominant seasons in college football history, rushing for 2,850 yards and scoring 39 touchdowns as the 1988 Heisman Trophy winner.

“Having just received another award, Sanders was late in returning to campus for the pro day. But he arrived at the field in a pair of cutoff jeans and, without warming up, blazed a 4.38 40-yard dash.”

Brandt’s argument for Brown at No. 1 is that he played in a “completely different era of football, with simple, run-oriented offenses and rules that prevented blockers from using their hands in any way.” Read more here…

Stanford Cardinal’s luck hasn’t run out just yet

Barry Sanders JrSome may want to consider the Stanford Cardinal’s unlucky now that Andrew Luck has gone on to Indianapolis, but their luck hasn’t run out just yet. The big news for the Cardinal moving forward is the commitment of Barry Sanders Jr. for the 2012 season.  They may have lost the battle to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, but Stanford has won the war, or at least evened the score by recruiting Barry Sanders Jr. away from his father’s Cowboy Alma-mater.  Barry Sanders Sr. was a 1988 Heisman trophy winner at Oklahoma State, but even that glory could not sway the younger Sanders.  The junior Sanders expressed excitement after donning the black hat with the Cardinal Stanford “S” on it at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game, saying that he was looking forward to getting a chance to play with what he thinks are some of the greatest student-athletes in the world.  He believes what some Stanford fans may be questioning, especially with the loss of Luck: that Stanford has been improving as a program and has a bright future ahead of them.

Sanders joins the Cardinal’s 17th-ranked recruiting class that includes two top-40 offensive line commitments and Sanders’ commitment could be enough to move the upcoming Stanford recruiting class into the top 15. 
This season, Stanford rushed for 2,738 yards as a team, including 1,363 yards and 10 touchdowns from junior Stepfan Taylor.  Sanders will join Taylor, junior Tyler Gaffney, sophomore Anthony Wilkerson in the Cardinal’s backfield, along with 2011 four-star running backs Kelsey Young and Remound Wright.

Don’t let Sanders 5”9, 190 pound frame fool you, he is quick and elusive on the field and displays great balance and the ability to take big hits and stay on his feet.  Stanford relies on the run; even more so now with Luck gone and Sanders may just be the next marquee player for the Cards.  Sanders chose Stanford in order to make his own name in the game and step out from behind his dad’s hulking shadow.  Also, receiving an education from one of the top schools in the nation doesn’t hurt either.  So even though the Fiesta Bowl may have left a sour taste in the mouths of Stanford fans and players alike, there is a bright future ahead for the Cardinal and hopefully some good luck as well.  The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work and Stanford’s” blue-collar” work ethic motto remains in tact.

Emily Van Buskirk is a writer for The Sports Blitz