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Monday, May 17, 1999

Two problems could be solved if Lions traded Barry Sanders to Miami

By Candy Reagan

The Miami Dolphins ought to trade four or five of their running backs and a few draft picks to the Detroit Lions for running back Barry Sanders.

What a great trade that would be, and it would be a win-win-win situation for Sanders, the Dolphins and the Lions. Plus, it would be great for the NFL. Fans could see Sanders in the same backfield with future Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino, and the Dolphins would have a legitimate chance of getting Super Bowl rings for two NFL greats at the same time.

Sanders’ unhappiness is one of the interesting sagas off the off-season. He has not shown up to mini-camps, saying he has lost interest in the game. Who can blame him? At his age, and with his

accomplishments, most players only play in an effort to get a Super Bowl ring.

Sanders knows he has no chance of doing that in Detroit. The Lions ought to do the decent thing for their great star and trade him. Let him have an opportunity.

With Barry Sanders at running back, the Dolphins would be the favorite to win the Super Bowl this season. They were pretty darn good last year, but they lacked a dominant running back and a reliable receiver.

Sanders would change that and give Marino a real force behind him for the first time in his career. We saw what that did for John Elway.

Imagine what such a trade would do for the NFL. Marino already holds most of the NFL’s quarterback records, and Sanders is likely to surpass Walter Payton as the NFL’s career rushing leader some time this season.

They are arguably the best NFL players at their respective positions to never have won Super Bowls. If Miami had both of them, everyone in the country would be rooting for the Dolphins to win the Super Bowl for Marino and Sanders, well, at least once their team got knocked out of the running.

Such a trade would be great for the Dolphins, even though some might argue that the Dolphins could find a dominant running back among their current crop of free agents and draft picks. If so, isn’t youth better for the future?

Yes, most definitely, but the Dolphins’ chance is now, not in the future. Marino won’t be around forever. The Dolphins may find a dominant force among their current crop, but then again, they may not.

And even if they do, he won’t have Sanders’ experience for years.

Such a trade certainly would make Sanders very happy. He is in the twilight of his career, and knows he will never win a championship in Detroit. And other than the Payton record, he has little else to accomplish.

And while Detroit fans won’t like the idea of losing Sanders, a trade would be good for them as well. Unlike the Dolphins, they should think about the future, and Sanders is aging. They should be happy to get draft picks and young players for the future.

I like Barry Sanders. I like Dan Marino. I’d love to see them both win a Super Bowl. If the Dolphins and Lions made a trade, that just might happen.

And that would make 1999 a particularly exciting year.

Candy Reagan, a local free-lance writer and avid sports fan, writes a weekly sports column commenting on sports happenings. You may contact her by e-mail at reagan@camalott.com.

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