Thirty-four years ago this spring the wheels were turning inside the draft room of the Detroit Lions at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.
The No. 1 team in the 1989 draft order, the Dallas Cowboys, were committed to UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman. Tom Braatz, the executive running the draft for the Green Bay Packers, responded to a call from the Lions not long before the draft by informing vice president for finance Chuck Schmidt that they intended to take Michigan State tackle Tony Mandarich at No. 2.
“There were five guys that year, including Mandarich, that all had really top-notch grades compared to other years,” Schmidt said in an interview last week. “Four out of the five turned out to be as good as our ratings and made the Hall of Fame. That isn’t very often. That’s how good they were.”
No other draft has ever sent four of its first five selections to Canton. Three — Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders, Florida State cornerback Deion Sanders and Aikman — were enshrined in their first year of eligibility. Outside linebacker Derrick Thomas of Alabama made it in his fifth year.
The Lions’ board was on point. Gifted prospects galore awaited Detroit at its No. 3 draft position. Coming off a 4-12 season, their 13th losing campaign in a span of 15 years, the Lions had been meeting long hours trying to made a wise choice.
“When Tom Braatz basically told me that Mandarich was going to go to Green Bay, then it was a debate between the two Sanders and Derrick Thomas,” said Schmidt. “And there was a healthy debate about that.”
As far as titles go, it would seem as if Russ Thomas, the Lions’ executive vice president and general manager, would be in charge of their draft. But, after a 42-year career as a player, assistant coach, scout, broadcaster and executive in Detroit, Thomas was less than a year from retirement and was barely involved in the process.
Jerry Vainisi, the vice president of player personnel and former GM and general counsel of the Chicago Bears, had been with the Lions for two years. Schmidt, a Lions’ front-office official since 1976, did contracts but had an increasingly significant voice.
The personnel side of the Lions’ operation included director of player personnel Joe Bushofsky, pro/college scout Ron Hughes and college scouts Clarence “Dirk” Dierking, Allen Hughes, Scott McEwen, Jerry Neri, Jim Owens and John Trump. Dierking’s area included Oklahoma State.
The head coach, Wayne Fontes, had served as interim coach for the final five games of 1988 after the firing of Darryl Rogers. After having the interim tagged removed following the season, Fontes hired Darrel “Mouse” Davis and June Jones to install the run-and-shoot offense — labeled the “Silver Stretch — and Jerry Wampfler (offensive line), Dave Levy (running backs) and Charlie Sanders (tight ends) as key offensive assistant coaches.
Schmidt, who would take over Thomas’ role in December 1989, insisted that the voice of every scout be heard without fear of recrimination. “We had our scouting department run the draft and we let the head coach make the decision on the picks,” said Schmidt. “But we did it in such a way that he was going to pick as we developed it. He wasn’t going to go up there and pick somebody off the wall.”
“It was Wayne’s choice,” Schmidt added. “He was pulled between the different opinions because people liked Deion Sanders equally as well as Barry. And also Derrick Thomas.”
According to Schmidt, Bushofsky liked Mandarich more than anyone else on the staff. Trump “really, really liked Deion,” said Schmidt, “and there were people that wanted Derrick Thomas.”
Wampfler, an NFL line coach for 15 seasons before arriving in Detroit, said the coaches, “other than Wayne, weren’t involved in that draft. That’s the truth. Not one word.”
His only assignment before the draft had been to work out Mandarich individually in East Lansing. He left there thoroughly unimpressed.
“I said, ‘Wayne, I would not touch him with a 10-foot pole,’” Wampfler recalled last week. “He said, ‘Jesus Christ, Wamp.’ He thought I was completely off-base. He didn’t even know how to get out of his stance and take on a pass rusher. I felt sorry for him. I said, ‘He’s a good athlete, but he’ll have to go to fundamental school first before he learns to play pro ball.’”
Davis and Jones did evaluate Barry Sanders and how he might operate in their run-and-shoot.
“Mouse Davis and June Jones were running the offense and, frankly, did not want to draft Barry Sanders,” Schmidt said. “He did not fit the prototype back in a run-and-shoot. The prototype is like a blocking fullback who can run draw plays.”
Some NFL teams scrambled to make up for lost time on Barry Sanders. A third-year junior, he wasn’t declared eligible for the draft until early April when the league granted him a special exemption because Oklahoma State was on probation.
Not only that but Sanders hadn’t become a starter for the Cowboys until his third season. Ahead of him in his first two years, 1986 and ’87, was All-American Thurman Thomas. That was in keeping with his pattern as a late bloomer dating to his high school years at Wichita North High School in Wichita, Kansas, where he was used mostly as a cornerback and kick returner until a move to running back early in his senior season.
Entering signing day in 1986, Oklahoma State had two running backs from Texas committed. Bill Shimek, the Cowboys’ running backs coach and a renowned recruiter, had gained the verbal commitments for coach Pat Jones. What happened next is just part of the legend of Sanders, who also had drawn some interest from Iowa State and Tulsa.
“Early in the morning on signing day one decommits and goes somewhere else,” said Jeff Smith, who as a scout for the Miami Dolphins from 1996-’00 remembered hearing Jones, the team’s tight ends coach, tell stories about how Sanders ended up playing under him in Stillwater. “In the meantime, Barry called the football office and he said, ‘Coach, I really want to come to Oklahoma State.’ Pat says, ‘Listen, let’s see if we can make that happen’ kind of thing.
“Midday, they lose the second of the two running backs they had committed. Damned if Sanders doesn’t call again and says, ‘I really want to come to Oklahoma State. I think I can play.’
“About 3 in the afternoon, Bill Shimek basically said, ‘Hey, the Sanders kid is sitting out there. I think he can probably help us.’ And Pat says, ‘Oh, hell, take him. He’ll be as good as any of the rest of them.’ Meaning anything that’s still left.
“Pat was being self-deprecating. Pat said it was just another piece of great recruiting. Then he comes and makes them forget about Thurman Thomas.”
Despite playing second string, Sanders as a sophomore returned two kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns in addition to rushing for 603 yards and nine TDs. Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer walled into a staff meeting before the 1987 game against Oklahoma State and, in a 1994 interview with the Oklahoman’s Mike Baldwin, said, “’You better hope Thurman Thomas doesn’t get hurt.’ They looked at me like I was crazy. I said, ‘Come look at this cat … Thurman is good, but he isn’t as good as this dude.’ I love Joe Washington, I love Billy Sims and Greg Pruitt and all the ones who played for me, but Barry Sanders was the best back during my 30 years I was in the Big Eight Conference.”
With Thomas off to the Buffalo Bills in the second round, Sanders returned the opening kickoff of the 1988 season 100 yards against Miami (Ohio). Ron Wolf was directing the personnel department for the Oakland Raiders when he saw Sanders in the next game, a 52-15 rout of Texas A&M.
“First off, you have to understand my dilemma with Barry Sanders,” Wolf said last week. “I was brought up with height, weight, speed as the essential measuring sticks in determining who was capable of playing in professional football. Alas, here goes Sanders.
“My first exposure was a night game vs. Texas A&M. Obviously, this was one talented, and rare football player, and it certainly captured my attention. In all the drafts after Sanders, there was always a player or two who was ‘just like Barry Sanders’ at running back. It took me a long time to correct everyone that there is only one Barry Sanders.”
With the Cowboys posting a second straight 10-2 record, Sanders won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. His remarkable junior season included averages of 237.5 yards per game rushing and 7.6 yards per carry to go with 44 touchdowns.
“He’s got Sammy Davis Jr. feet,” said Joe Woolley, director of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles. “He makes more people grab for air than any back I’ve seen in years and years. He’s got sweet feet, I’ll tell you. They are always under him and they are always moving. The first shot guy has a tough time getting him.”
Jerry Angelo, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ director of player personnel, was asked to evaluate Sanders against Joe Morris (5-7, 195), the New York Giants’ two-time Pro Bowl running back.
“You’re talking about a lot more talented player than Joe Morris,” said Angelo. “Morris is an overachiever but Joe Morris is a great competitor, and I think Barry Sanders is, too. They got great runner’s hearts.”
Jon Jelacic, a scout for the Green Bay Packers, came away extremely impressed. “That guy can do things you cannot believe,” he said. “He knocks big guys on their butt with his straight-arm. Outstanding hands. (James) Brooks and Joe Washington are really good, but this guy is better. He’s smoke (very fast). And he’s tough as hell. He never goes down easy. His shoulders are always parallel to the line. When they hit him inside they bounce off. Fun to watch.”
Brooks (5-10, 180) made four Pro Bowls in a 12-year career that began as San Diego’s No. 24 selection in 1981. Washington (5-10, 179) excelled as a third-down back with one Pro Bowl after entering the NFL as the Chargers’ first-round choice (No. 4) in 1976. Sims (6-0, 212), the first player picked in 1980 by Detroit, ran about 4.4 coming out. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons before suffering a catastrophic knee injury in mid-1984 that ended his career.
“Sims was a power runner, a bigger, stronger back,” said Braatz. “I think this guy is more like Mike Garrett. More of a darter. But I hate to take those 5-9 guys up in there.”
Garrett (5-9, 191) made two Pro Bowls with the Kansas City Chiefs after being drafted in the second round (No. 18 overall) by the Los Angeles Rams in 1966.
Until the final few days leading up to the draft, the Packers rated Georgia’s Tim Worley as the top back on their board. His size (6-1, 228) drew comparisons to Gerald Riggs and his 4.48 speed to Herschel Walker. A few other teams had Worley atop their running-back list as well.
“I think everybody would rather have the bigger guy,” said Dick Corrick, the Houston Oilers’ director of college scouting. “Worley has a chance to be super. Sanders is a little dinky guy. They had one out of there, Miller, that in three or four years was out of the league. He was about that size.”
Terry Miller, also from Oklahoma State, was the fifth player selected in 1978. Just 5-10 and 196, he was rookie of the year for the Buffalo Bills before a string of leg and toe injuries wrecked his career.
“Great runner,” Tom Boisture, the New York Giants’ director of player personnel, said of Sanders. “Just small.”
Besides size, the other concern for some teams was Sanders’ speed. Nobody had a time on him. Corrick guessed 4.6. Michael Lombardi, a scout for the Cleveland Browns, estimated between 4.55 and 4.6. The Packers pegged him in the mid-to-high 4.5s.
McEwen, who scouted the southeast for the Lions, didn’t see Sanders in person. “But I saw him on film,” he said last week. “You turn the film on, he was no 4.6, believe me. I don’t understand where that came from, but everybody has their opinions.”
Thus, the scene was set in Stillwater on April 12 — 11 days before the draft — when Sanders was to be measured, weighed, tested and worked out on the Astroturf surface of Lewis Field. It was reported by The Associated Press that nine teams were represented, including teams holding the top seven selections plus New England and the Giants.
“Sanders was late for pro day,” former Dallas Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt said in 2019. “He came with just a pair of shorts on. Didn’t have gear on or anything.”
Mike O’Hara, the Lions beat man for The Detroit News from 1977-’07 who now writes for DetroitLions.com, said he was the only print reporter in attendance. He vividly recalled Sanders emerging from the Oklahoma State locker room just off the floor of the stadium, walking to the nearest goalpost, leaping to the crossbar 10 feet above the field and executing a one-armed chin-up.
Smith, at the time a scout for Dallas, was in charge of the vertical jump that day. He didn’t see the chin-up but, if he had, “That would have impressed me. At his height, to get to that crossbar …”
One team’s records show Sanders measured 5-8 1/8 inches; Wolf, who was the Packers GM from 1991-’01, said their records had him 5-7 7/8. He weighed 203; the Lions listed him at that weight for his entire career, but Schmidt said after Sanders’ first few seasons his most common weight was 195.
There were discrepancies on what Sanders scored on the Wonderlic test. One team said 19, another said 16.
On the field, the 40-yard dash came first. The Lions’ contingent included Dierking at the finish, Fontes at the 20 and Schmidt.
“He came rippin’ down through there and he runs 4.44, 4.42, something like that, which was a really good time in those days,” said Smith, who was watching from the vertical-jump station but not holding a stopwatch. “Fontes had been timing 20s. He calls down to his scout on the end line, and it was Clarence Dierking, and says, ‘Dirk, what did he run?’ Dirk hollers back what he ran. And Fontes turns to the starter and says, ‘That’s it. He’s not running again. He’s the third pick of the draft.’
“Barry was down at the finish line. The scouts standing around were laughing about it. I don’t think I was the only one that hadn’t seen that before. I’ve never seen a coach step out and do that.”
O’Hara remembered Sanders running a pair of 40s, each in a different direction. The AP reported his times as 4.39 and 4.43.
Next, in the vertical jump, Sanders soared 41 ½ inches. His broad jump was an equally astounding 10-11.
“Barry ran his time, it was under 4.5 and that’s what we expected,” said Schmidt. “His explosion and his 10 and 20 times were fantastic. The most amazing thing was his vertical jump. Here’s a guy maybe 5-9 … I never saw a guy with that kind of explosion go up and jump like that. His explosion in the legs, it was like a rocket.”
Taylor Smith, the son of Atlanta Falcons owner Rankin Smith and the team’s executive vice president, approached Schmidt with the understanding that Barry Sanders now was highly unlikely to be available for the Falcons’ choice at No. 5. “’Now tell me what you think of this Deion Sanders guy,’” Schmidt recalled Smith saying. “I told him, ‘Listen, we love these guys. He’s a heck of a football player, and you should do well if you take him.’”
In similar situations, one of the teams hoping to draft Sanders probably would have taken him to dinner. As Schmidt put it, “Didn’t have to. He wasn’t much for that sort of stuff.”
Instead, Jones suggested to Fontes and Schmidt that they take the opportunity to talk at length with Sanders back in the head coach’s office overlooking the stadium. Jones quickly departed, and after handshakes Fontes strove to allay any concerns about the run-and-shoot that Sanders’ agents, Lamont Smith and David Ware, had expressed in the newspapers for the past month.
“Wayne took these paperweights and other things that were on Pat’s desk,” said Schmidt. “He showed how the defense was going to line up against the run-and-shoot. He said, ‘Look at all this space. Barry, this is you. This is your offense.’
“’Now don’t pay attention to anything written or said. I’m the guy that’s going to draft you.’ He points to me and says, ‘This is the guy that’s going to sign you. Don’t listen to anybody else.’
“Barry, of course, isn’t a man of many words. But Barry got a little smile on his face. I’ll never forget it. And that was it. We won him over.”
Three days before the draft the Cowboys signed Aikman (six years, $11.037 million), thus shifting the focus to the Packers and the second pick. It shouldn’t be forgotten the esteem with which Mandarich was held among some scouts. There were favorable comparisons made between him and Bengals left tackle Anthony Munoz, who was in the midst of his Hall of Fame career.
“Very, very seldom do you have a chance to pick a Troy Aikman or a Tony Mandarich,” Gil Brandt, Dallas’ personnel chief, said about a month before the draft. “They (the Packers) will be getting a player that probably will be in the Pro Bowl for the next 10 years.”
All along, the Packers rated Worley above Sanders. Even after Bobo Cegelski, their southwest scout, reported back from Stillwater and Sanders’ boffo workout, Braatz told me on April 14 that Worley remained No. 1 at running back and Sanders No. 2 for Green Bay.
Other factors swirled. William Sanders, on April 2, said that his son had no intention of playing for the Packers. “Would you go to work in Green Bay?” he said. “He’s just not.” On a talk show, Mandarich said he wanted to be paid more than Aikman.
Eventually, the Packers moved Sanders ahead of Worley on their board and into real consideration to be their choice. On the night of the draft, Braatz finally came clean and admitted that Sanders’ time in the 40 had stunned him and the organization. It led to hours of discussion until the decision for Mandarich was made Friday, less than 48 hours before the draft.
Having been hired with four games remaining in 1991, Wolf had the chance to evaluate coach Lindy Infante first-hand before eventually firing him. Infante told him that Sanders had been his choice. At the time, the football decision-making in Green Bay was regarded as a 50-50 arrangement between Braatz and Infante. When Wolf took over, he demanded and received complete authority.
“Lindy had a lot of trouble with it,” Braatz said that Sunday night. “He really liked Sanders. We talked seriously about it — long, drawn-out deals. As late as Friday. After hashing it out with all the coaches and all the scouts and Lindy and myself, we decided Mandarich was better.”
At the Silverdome, Schmidt encouraged and watched for days a free-flowing exchange of opinions on what to do if the Packers did, indeed, select Mandarich. As brash and conclusive as the gregarious Fontes might have been on workout day in Stillwater, there was still the gravity of making the first draft choice of his career among three almost equally rated, highly admired players: Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders and Derrick Thomas.
“So,” said Schmidt, “Wayne called up John McKay, who I think was retired. Wayne coached under John McKay at Tampa and USC.”
In January 1972, Fontes was the 32-year-old defensive backfield coach for an inert Iowa program that was coming off a 1-10 campaign under coach Frank Lauterbur. McKay was entering his 13th season at Southern California having already won two national championships. As McKay’s secondary coach from 1972-’75, Fontes would be part of two more national titles.
In 1976, Fontes was among the many Trojans coaches and staffers that McKay brought with him as the first coach (and vice president) of the expansionist Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator in 1982, then to assistant head coach in ’84. When McKay resigned in early 1985, Fontes went to Detroit as defensive coordinator.
“Of all the guys that he brought with him from USC I think Fontes was his favorite, but I’m not sure of that,” said Wolf, who worked alongside McKay as the Buccaneers general manager from 1975-’78. “McKay wasn’t the kind of guy you could warm up to, but I think McKay had a lot of respect for Wayne Fontes.”
Linebackers were the calling card at Penn State during McKay’s 16-year run just as tailbacks were the glamour position at USC. With Traveler, the noble white horse, galloping around the Coliseum after touchdowns, the Trojans were the end-all and be-all of college football.
Leading the way was a stable of tailbacks in McKay’s “I” formation: Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Clarence Davis, Anthony Davis and Ricky Bell. Running “Student Body Left” and “Student Body Right,” all five made All-America, and Garrett and Simpson won the Heisman.
“Very, very, very close,” Wampfler, who worked under Fontes in Detroit for five seasons, said of the relationship between Fontes and McKay. “If Wayne had three coaches sitting there saying the other and he talked to McKay, he’d go with John McKay.”
Back to the phone call between Fontes and McKay.
“Wayne said, ‘What would you do?’” said Schmidt. “John McKay said, ‘Well, I would take the running back.’ That’s how the decision was made.”
With almost 40 years of NFL front-office experience, Wolf was asked if one call between coach and mentor might have carried the day on draft day. “Yeah, I could see that, sure,” he replied. “Because of all the success (McKay) had with backs at USC. And I think they were close.”
Their choice having been made, the Lions begged Sanders to fly into Detroit Saturday night and then appear at a press conference at the Silverdome Sunday afternoon after his name was called. Sanders wanted none of that.
“He (Fontes) said the other 28 teams will have their players in their city,” Sanders told Clark Spencer of the Wichita Eagle-Beacon. “That’s a lot of unnecessary stuff going on. Who am I?”
Instead, Sanders spent Saturday night on the living-room couch at his parents’ house in Wichita. When reporters began trooping in Sunday morning, Sanders “leaned against the piano in that same living room, held a toothbrush and awaited his turn in the bathroom, occupied by one of his eight sisters,” wrote Spencer, before heading to Paradise Baptist Church for a 9:30 a.m. Sunday school service.
Rather than heading over to Georgio’s Restaurant in Wichita, where a large-screen television had been set up for the celebration, Sanders went straight home after church and watched the draft with some friends. More than two hours after the Lions took him, Sanders arrived at Georgio’s. He shook some hands, posed for some pictures and vanished.
“I don’t like being predictable, that’s for sure,” he told reporters.
Shortly after Mandarich ended his 44-day holdout, Sanders got around to signing three days before the opener against the Phoenix Cardinals at a half-filled Silverdome. He practiced Friday, took the field for the first time in the third quarter, gained 18 yards on his first carry, rushed for 71 yards in nine attempts and scored a touchdown. The Lions still lost.
Despite a slow start, Sanders picked up 1,470 yards as a rookie, 10 yards behind rushing champion Christian Okoye of Kansas City but with 90 fewer carries. Just as Fontes had promised, the run-and-shoot was to Sanders’ liking.
“Actually, Barry complemented Mouse’s offense,” said Wampfler. “You could have put Barry in almost any offense. As long as you didn’t tie him down to regimented plays — you run this hole regardless — he would make any offense look good. If you tried to harness him, you’d make an average player out of him.”
In his second season, one in which the Lions continued to languish in the standings, Sanders rushed for 1,304 yards and gained another 480, a career high, as a receiver. The passing game wasn’t the best part of his game. He was solid on screens and as an outlet receiver, but the Lions knew they couldn’t expect him to line up in the slot and run precise routes.
“The biggest thing for Barry was, he never had a quarterback that was the guy,” said Paul Boudreau, the Lions’ offensive line coach after Wampfler from 1994-’96. “Two guys that if they had kept them around longer would have been were Rodney Peete and Erik Kramer.”
Sanders’ size was an obvious drawback in pass protection. “We didn’t want him matched up on a linebacker,” Boudreau said. “We always tried to scheme it where, if he is going to block somebody, it’s going to be a DB. He had a great ability to leave when he had to leave and stay when he had to stay. If a lineman was in trouble he’d be able to chip a guy.”
Wampfler’s voice broke for almost 10 seconds when the subject of the willingness of Sanders to sell out and stop people in blitz pickup was broached.
“If you asked Barry to do something he would never shirk away from it,” he said. “He wouldn’t look at you cross-eyed, or (say), ‘What are you trying to do to my career?’ I have never been around a great back who was as unselfish as Barry Sanders. Can’t say the same for O.J. He wasn’t an unselfish guy.”
Wampfler coached the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line in 1976 when Simpson had his last exceptional season (1,503 yards, 5.2 per carry).
Over the span of Sanders’ final eight seasons the Lions made the playoffs five times (1-5 record), and that included division championships in 1991 and ’93. After winning the last of their three NFL championships in the 1950s, the Lions made the playoffs three times in 31 seasons before Sanders came aboard. Post-Sanders, the Lions have made the playoffs four times in 24 seasons. Twenty-nine years later, they have yet to win a divisional title without him.
“Had we been able to advance and win a Super Bowl or two, he probably would be viewed as the greatest (Lion player ever), and rightfully so,” said Schmidt. “Frankly, we thought he’d be a really good player. No one expected him to be that good.”
By the midpoint of his 10-year career Sanders had played in Davis’ run-and-shoot for two seasons and a conventional setup under offensive coordinators Dave Levy and Dan Henning for three seasons that frequently incorporated a fullback and two tight ends. In 1994, Tom Moore was named quarterbacks coach before moving up to coordinator for 1995-’96.
“With Tom, it was the same stuff that Indy did,” Boudreau said. “Three wideouts, not a lot of motion, one tight end. Give him some space. It was the simplest in the world but Barry liked it because he never liked a guy in front of him. With a guy in front of him, his vision was off. He used to always tell me, ‘Hey Bouds, just move the down guys, I’ll move the linebackers.’”
In the fog of an NFL game, the best information Boudreau could obtain between series came from Sanders, not his linemen. They would study Polaroid pictures together on the bench. At times, Boudreau remembered correcting Sanders about what he thought was a missed read on his part. There were occasions when Sanders would point out that he made his cut because a safety was entering the box, which couldn’t be seen in the photo.
“Then the next day I’m watching the tape and I’m, like, ‘There it is,’” Boudreau said. “The guy was 15 yards away but Barry saw it. His vision was better than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
What made Sanders perhaps the most elusive featured runner ever, with the possible exception of Gale Sayers, was his ability to stop, jump cut to one side and then accelerate to full speed almost instantly. Without prompting, Boudreau, Schmidt and Wampfler each offered examples of Sanders at his magical best against a pair of Hall of Fame safeties and a Pro Bowl outside linebacker.
In December 1994, on the first play of the game against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands, safety Ronnie Lott walked up late to the line of scrimmage and found himself unblocked and one-on-one with Sanders. “Barry shakes his shoulders and all of a sudden, 20-yard (actually 27) gain,” said Boudreau. “Some of his best runs were 2-yard gains where he ran like 50 yards. He was so elusive. He never got hit. One of a kind.”
Schmidt’s memory includes safety John Lynch diving and missing Sanders in similar circumstances when he had him dead to rights.
Clay Matthews, who played 19 seasons, was about to tackle Sanders when a move was made and the linebacker wound up on the ground as No. 20 zoomed past, according to Wampfler.
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