LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday proclaimed Sept. 17, 2023 as “Barry Sanders Day” in Michigan. The day coincides with the unveiling Sunday of a new statue outside of Detroit’s Ford Field that honors the legendary Detroit Lions running back.

“He played with Detroit hustle and humility, always getting the job done and supporting his team. He showed us, both with his play on the field and his work off of it, what it means to be a great athlete and a good person,” Whitmer said in a news statement Sunday. “As we enter another Lions season, let’s remember Barry Sanders, one of the greatest to ever do it, and keep on winning.” 

The 8-foot bronze statue of Sanders makes him the first player in Detroit Lions history to be immortalized outside of the arena, the governor’s office said Sunday.

Sanders rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his 10 seasons with the Lions from 1989-1998, the governor’s office said, making him the first ever running back to do so.

He made his professional football debut just three days after signing in 1989 with the Lions, who had made him their first-round pick and the third overall pick in that year’s NFL draft.

You can view Whitmer’s full proclamation of “Barry Sanders Day” here.