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Barry Sanders Talks Career, His Best Year, Comparisons To Payton, Campbell

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DETROIT - DECEMBER 23:  Barry Sanders #20 former Detroit Lions running back looks on from the tunnel prior to being honored at half time during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 23, 2007 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit wont he game 25-20. (Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DETROIT – DECEMBER 23: Barry Sanders #20 former Detroit Lions running back looks on from the tunnel prior to being honored at half time during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 23, 2007 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit wont he game 25-20. (Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Back in the spotlight with the Madden 25 cover and a Pepsi Max commercial spoofing his sudden — and shocking — Detroit Lions retirement, Barry Sanders sat down for a lengthy chat with CBS Sports.

The “one on one” special airs at 9 p.m. Thursday on the CBS Sports Network.

In it, Sanders discusses the 25th anniversary of his Heisman Trophy win, how he compares himself to Earl Campbell and Walter Payton, and why he considers the 1997 season with the Detroit Lions the best football of his life.

“I knew I could never do what Earl did on the field,” Sanders says in the interview, adding, “I knew I probably wouldn’t have the heart that Walter Payton had, the kind of heart he ran with and toughness he ran with, I didn’t have that, you know, but I had my own unique skill set that I came to the table with.”

He also talks about the special year of 1997, when the Lions made the playoffs, which he says was the year he had the “best football of his life.” That was the year Sanders became the third NFL player in history to rush for at least 2,000 yards.

It was also the year the Lions scored 379 points, the fourth highest numbers of any team in the league.

“It’s funny because the start of that season, the first two games, I think I had a total of 50 yards, 53 yards in two games. And I remember doing some interviews and people were saying I’m losing a step, I’m getting old, it’s my ninth season, you know, they can tell I’m just not the same player,” Sanders said. “And then I rattled off those 14 straight 100-yard games and had a couple of 200-yard games mixed in there and there were a lot of long touchdown runs…

“It’s the year I probably remember the most.”

Sanders ended up finishing his career 1,457 yards short of Walter Payton for the all-time rushing leader in the NFL.

Tune in tonight to see the entire interview. CBS Sports Network is available across the country through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite.  For more information, including a full programming schedule and how to get CBS Sports Network, go to www.cbssportsnetwork.com.

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