September 10, 1989 – Barry Sanders’ First Game Ever


The Detroit Lions are one of the National Football League’s oldest franchises. They have had a number of great players over the years and played in some very important games. The sad truth though is that the Lions have also had a lot of very tough years in terms of win-loss records.

One of the greatest players to ever wear a Detroit Lions jersey was running back Barry Sanders. He came to the team as their first round draft pick out of Oklahoma State University and took the league by storm. With all the great games to his credit, how did he do in his first game ever?

The day was Sunday, September 10th, 1989 and the Lions were hosting the Phoenix Cardinals in the Pontiac Silverdome. It was the first game of the year for both teams and each was coming off of a disapointing season the year before. The Lions scored first with a 30 yard Eddie Murray field goal in the first quarter which was equaled and then passed by two field goals by kicker Al Del Greco of the Cardinals in the second quarter. In the third quarter of his first game in the league, Barry Sanders would take the handoff and run three yards for the first touchdown of his professional career. The fourth quarter would see Phoenix quarterback Gary Hogeboom hit receiver Roy Green for a 15 yard score and then each kick would trade field goals. The final score was 16-13 and Sanders’ Lions had been defeated in his first game.

Barry Sanders would have a respectable game for a rookie starting his first game in the league, rushing the ball nine times for 71 yards and a touchdown. This would not be a sign of things to come though as he would grow into the role of dominant running back and soon be putting together monster seasons and highlight reels full of amazing runs. There was no one else like Barry Sanders for the Detroit Lions in their entire history, and there never will be again. He is one of those great athletes that was truly one of a kind.

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