DETROIT – Superstar Lions RB Barry Sanders’ contract holdout from the team stretched to day 5,110, with no end to the stalemate in site.
“No, Barry didn’t show up today,” said head coach Jim Schwartz. “Every day I come in to work and peek into the weight room to see if he’s decided to end this thing and report to camp, and every day I’m disappointed.”
Added Schwartz, “Truthfully, I’ve never even met the man.”
Sanders, the NFL’s leading rusher during the 1990′s, appeared destined to shatter Walter Payton’s all-time league rushing record, until he decided to skip Lions training camp in 1999. Through his agent, Sanders demanded his release from the team in return for his repayment of $5.5 million, the prorated portion of the $11 million dollar signing bonus he received from the team in 1997. The Lions refused, and Sanders has been absent from all team functions ever since.
“We expect nothing less than Barry reporting to team headquarters to honor the final four years of his deal,” said GM Martin Mayhew. “So far, he has incurred more than $200 million in fines for being absent from fourteen years worth of training camp, off-season activities, and 224 regular season games. Barry, you’re only making this worse for yourself with every day that goes by.”
Schwartz added that additional punishments would await the 44-year old, 2004 ProFootball Hall of Fame inductee if and when he returned to the team.
“Well, when he does come back, we’ll obviously have to levy some sort of penalty on Barry,” said Schwartz. “I’m thinking that I’ll have him sit out the first series of his first game. You know, to teach him a lesson. But he’ll be getting 25 or 30 carries a week after that. He’s Barry (expletive) Sanders, after all.”