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In an era where athletes are amped to tell their own stories, it’s Barry Sanders’ turn. 

In his new documentary Bye Bye Barry, the NFL legend delves deep to tell the tale of dominating the running back position throughout the 90s and then abruptly retiring in 1999.

He was a hero for the oft-struggling Detroit Lions, but fans always wondered why he retired when he still had so much more to give the game of football.

Now, more than 20 years later, he spoke to GQ about his decision to retire and why he thinks it was such a big deal to the sports world.

Sanders was doing press for the documentary, and while in LA, he wanted to get in a round of golf, so GQ got the chance to hit the links with him while discussing the long-awaited documentary.

“I think maybe just because of how I played the game and bursting onto the scene in college,” he says. “I mean, just maybe being a professional athlete and not seeking attention. Maybe because I played for the lovable loser type team, the Lions. I don’t know. Just being the guy like that, being one of the top players from that era. I mean, I think there’s a lot of reasons why people will gravitate towards my story.”

Sanders, known for being reserved and valuing his privacy, speaks on why he’s now willing to open up about his swift retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with it now than I would’ve been starting out my career,” he says. “Felt like there was a good demand for the story. And felt like it was unique in a lot of ways.”

The 55-year-old infamously didn’t have some elaborate press conference or dramatically announce his retirement; he simply faxed a letter to his hometown newspaper, The Wichita Eagle. In the letter, he revealed that when the 1998-99 season ended, he felt it would be his last but used the offseason to continue to mull over the big decision before ultimately calling it quits.

You can stream Bye Bye Barry on Prime Video now. 

Barry Sanders Is Finally Ready To Talk About His Sudden Retirement In New ‘Bye Bye Barry’ Documentary  was originally published on