The Pug (Anthony Pugliese) takes a look at the best players in NFL history to wear every number from 0(00) up to 99. In the third part of a ten part series, The Pug tells you who the best players in NFL history to wear jersey numbers 20-29 were(or are).
Part 3: Numbers 20-29
If you missed the first two parts, click the links below to see 0-19
#20: Barry Sanders, Running Back
— The Poetry Engineer (@PoetryEngineer) May 14, 2017
Considered by many to not only be the best to wear number 20, but be the greatest running back of all time, Barry Sanders found success in Detroit from day one. Barry Sanders earned Rookie of the Year honors after rushing for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns. His rookie season was a warning to the league, as Sanders broke the 1k mark in all ten seasons he played.
Sanders was quite possibly the most elusive running back ever. His small statue was never an issue as defenders had a hard time squaring him up. Barry was a true artist in his field, and was breaking ankles long before the term was even coined. Even though he may have been one of the hardest players to bring down in NFL history, Sanders is actually the all-time leader in rushing yards lost by a running back with 1,114.
“I never valued it (the career rushing yardage record) so much that I thought it was worth my dignity or Walter’s dignity to pursue it amid so much media and marketing attention.”- Barry Sanders via profootballhof.com
Sanders led the league in rushing on four separate occasions during his ten-year career, was a First-Team All-Pro an impressive six times and made the Pro Bowl in every year of his career. Due to the losing culture of the Detroit Lions, Barry felt he lost his competitive edge and retired early finding himself healthy and 1,457 yards away from Walter Payton‘s NFL rushing record. His average yards per carry(5.0) and yards per game(99.8) were second only to Jim Brown.
Even with his early departure from the game, 15,269 yards rushing and 109 combined touchdowns easily earned him a seat in Canton in 2004.
Honorable Mention: Ed Reed