After two decades from his abrupt departure from Detroit, legendary running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer has returned to the Motor City as the new Brand Ambassador for the Lions.
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Sanders, who is now 49, was hired early this week and team president Rod Wood spoke to The Detroit News about the hiring, "We've thankfully, the last couple years, had an unofficial relationship with him," Wood told the newspaper. "This year, we formalized it. You described it well, it's kind of a brand ambassador. He'll be going on road trips, showing up for suite visits, he'll be at the Taste of the Lions event, and just interacting with our fans on behalf of the team.
"It's a formal agreement. I worked with Barry and his agent to put something together that works for both of us. It's not a football role. It's more of a marketing, business role."
According to Sanders' agent, J.B. Bernstein, the Silver and Blue have been pursuing the Hall of Famer for a bigger role with the organization.
"The Lions have always made an effort, every single season since Barry retired," Bernstein told the Detroit News. "Granted, the first couple seasons were to get him to come back and play. But once those first couple seasons passed, there hasn't been a year they haven't reached out to Barry to make sure they include him in everything from alumni games to events in the community.
"The opportunity to have this relationship with the team has always been there for him. The Fords, everybody from the top on down, they've always wanted to have Barry involved as much as possible. Now, we're getting to the point where he has some significant time to allocate to the team and we're excited about it."
Sanders was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004. After an illustrious 10 seasons in the NFL, that included 15,269 yards which are the most in Lions franchise history and third all-time behind Gold Jackets Emmitt Smith (2010) and Walter Payton (1993).