After ten seasons with the NFL and an eight month-long bout with a tumor behind his knee, Charlie Sanders passed away this week. He was 68.
His daughter, Mary Jo Sanders, a pro boxer, confirmed the news to the Detroit Free Press.
“If there ever was an original Lion, it's Charlie Sanders,” former Lions general manager Russ Thomas said, according to the Bleacher Report.
Sanders attended James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, a few hours from his Richland, N.C. hometown. He played college football for the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the University of Minnesota, where he was on the All-Big Ten Conference Team during his senior year.
He entered the league in 1968, selected in the third round of the draft, and spent his entire pro career with the Lions. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl seven times (the only rookie to be named in 1969), the 1970s All-Decade Team, and voted into the Pro Hall of Fame in 2007.
Sanders known for his blocking, was also inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (1997) and the Minnesota M Club Hall of Fame (2013).
After he retired, Sanders remained with the team until his death, serving various roles throughout the years as a colors analyst on Lions radio, an assistant coach for wide receivers, a scout for the front office, and as assistant director of pro personnel. He spent considerable time giving to the larger community as well, offering college scholarships through The Charlie Sanders Foundation, which he established in 2007.
He and his wife Georgianna had ten children.
Our condolensces to his family and friends.
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