Dynamic duo debate: Why Barry J. Sanders is better
My answer: In truth, it’s probably a coin flip. Because as I try to formulate my thoughts as to why I’m picking Sanders, my mind keeps taking me back to Shepard’s second-half performance in the Class 3A state championship game against Kingfisher last December — 169 rushing yards and four touchdowns. All in the second half, after his team fell behind 14-0. Truly incredible.
But my head still tells me it’s Sanders.
Strong body. Great speed. Filthy moves. Soft hands. Leadership ability. He’s the total package.
Sanders has a group of very vocal critics, too. I still can’t fathom what pushes some adults to speak so negatively on a personal level about a high school kid, but that’s a different discussion.
Let’s look at some of those critics’ ammunition:
No. 1: He’s injury-prone.
Sanders missed eight games last year with an ankle injury that required surgery after the season. He tried to play on it in the playoffs, but couldn’t. He didn’t miss a game as a sophomore, and played in nine games as a backup when he was a freshman.
He has carried the ball 398 times over the last three seasons for 3,617 yards and 50 touchdowns, averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Doesn’t sound too bad.
Besides, I remember back in 2006 when I was covering OU, hearing that Adrian Peterson was injury-prone and wouldn’t last in the NFL — probably even raised the question myself. But he seems to be doing just fine.
No. 2: Sanders plays in Class 3A and you can’t compare 3A talent to 6A talent.
Frankly, that argument is just tired. It will always exist, but if Troy Aikman, James Allen and Wes Welker aren’t enough to convince you that small-school kids can play big-time football, nothing will. And those are just three guys I came up with who played during my lifetime. I didn’t need to do any research to pull those names out.
Sure, there are a bunch of small-school players who didn’t make it. But there are a ton of 6A kids who flop just as hard.
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