'Bye Bye Barry' Evades the Only Question Worth Asking

'Bye Bye Barry' Evades the Only Question Worth Asking

6 min read

Bye Bye Barry, a new documentary about NFL running back Barry Sanders, poses the question fans have been asking since he abruptly vanished from our lives.


Why did he retire at the apex of his career, when he was one season from breaking the NFL's all-time rushing record?

There are other questions. Accusatory ones, like, "How could you?" You remember on The Office when Michael Scott conducted Toby's exit interview? Those are the sorts of questions football-loving Michiganders have been living with ever since. It's not pretty to admit, but it's true. We loved him and he just walked away.

It was actually worse than that.

Barry literally phoned his retirement in, faxing the announcement on the eve of training camp in 1999 and then taking off for London. It felt like he couldn't wait to be out of here. Sayonara, suckers. And, to borrow a Michael Jordan quote, Lions fans "took that personally."

"Until yesterday, O.J. was my least favorite NFL runner, but he only stabbed two people in the back." ~ a fan quote from Bye Bye Barry

The city of Cleveland felt betrayed when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. Imagine if LeBron decided his time in Cleveland had broken him so badly that he couldn't even look at a basketball again. It's deeper than betrayal—it's outright rejection and condemnation. "It's not me, it's definitely you."