'There is only one Barry Sanders'
Our Bob McGinn chronicles the iconic 1989 NFL Draft and what made the Detroit Lions star one of the greatest players in history. As a player and a person, there's never been anyone like Barry Sanders.
The McGinn Files is a series looking back at selected players from NFL drafts since 1985. The foundation of the series is Bob McGinn’s transcripts of his annual predraft interviews with general managers, personnel directors and scouts over the last 38 years. This is the 38th installment of the series, which began in 2019 at The Athletic.
Thirty-four years ago this spring the wheels were turning inside the draft room of the Detroit Lions at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.
The No. 1 team in the 1989 draft order, the Dallas Cowboys, were committed to UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman. Tom Braatz, the executive running the draft for the Green Bay Packers, responded to a call from the Lions not long before the draft by informing vice president for finance Chuck Schmidt that they intended to take Michigan State tackle Tony Mandarich at No. 2.
“There were five guys that year, including Mandarich, that all had really top-notch grades compared to other years,” Schmidt said in an interview last week. “Four out of the five turned out to be as good as our ratings and made the Hall of Fame. That isn’t very often. That’s how good they were.”
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In today’s feature, you’ll learn exactly what went down in the iconic 1989 draft and why Sanders was truly one of a kind.