Barry Sanders writing back after Lions find hundreds of old fan letters

A Lions employee looking for something in a storage closet discovered that hundreds of fan letters written years ago to Barry Sanders had been sitting unopened, and now Sanders is getting back to those fans.

When Sanders was told of the letters he pledged that everyone who wrote to him will get a response, even if it’s years late.

“I feel terrible,” Sanders wrote in a form letter being sent to the fans. “Any Lions fan knows that we have a special relationship in Detroit. I was lucky enough to share that for 10 great seasons, and the memories we made together will last a lifetime. To think that all these fans had written to me and had never received a response did not sit right with me. As a professional athlete, it is difficult to answer everything personally, but I always made sure to do as many as I could. For all those I could not get to, I have my people on Team Sanders that send out signed cards on my behalf. We really try to answer everyone eventually. In total we found 248 letters sent to the Silverdome between 2004 and 2010.”

That the letters were sent to the Silverdome was part of the problem, as the Lions haven’t played there since they moved to Ford Field in 2002, three years after Sanders retired. But the letters did eventually get to the Lions, they just didn’t get to Sanders until now.

ESPN has published several of the letters, mostly from young children who are now adults. One of them, Damon Barnett, is now married with children and serving in the military, but he’s still eager to hear back from Sanders.

“That would mean the world to me,” Barnett said. “I would call up my wife, tell my son, ‘You can really talk to your role models and the people you really admire in the world. They will respond back to you.’ ”

Sanders has vowed that everyone who wrote to him will get some kind of response.