It’s about time!
The recent selection of former Detroit Lions tight end Charlie Sanders to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2007 was, in my opinion, long overdue. I have been saying for years that he deserved to be in Canton and many longtime Lions fans have felt the same way.
I saw him play in person a couple of times towards the end of his career when I was a teenager. In fact, it was while attending my third Lions game ever in 1977 that I was fortunate enough to be there when Sanders became the Lions all-time leading receiver.
I remember the play that gave him the record like it was yesterday. The Lions were lined up near the goal line, ready to score. Quarterback Greg Landry faked a handoff to the running back, who ran to his right. Landry rolled out to his left. Everyone, and I mean everyone, on both teams ran to the right side of the field, except, that is, for Landry and Charlie Sanders, who both went to the left. Sanders was so wide open in the end zone that I could see him plain as day, even from my seat clear at the other end of the stadium. He caught the ball for the touchdown and fell backwards into a sitting position in the end zone. Soon after, the public address announcement told the crowd that Sanders was now the Lions all-time leading reciver. The place went wild.
Sanders was selected by the Lions out of the University of Minnesota in the third round of the 1968 NFL Draft and he played 10 seasons in Detroit. He went to the Pro Bowl seven times. Even more remarkable than his playing career is the fact that Sanders has been with the Lions, in one capacity or another, ever since. He spent eight years as an assistant coach on the team, two years coaching tight ends and six years coaching wide receivers. He has also spent time as the team's assistant director of pro personnel, he was a radio broadcaster for the team and he is currently one of the team's player scouts.