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Barry Says It Again: I'm Done

Barry Sanders said it again. He is done as an NFL player.

The former Detroit Lions running back spoke briefly Friday night with a reporter from The Oakland Press of Pontiac.

"That is it. I am done," Sanders said in the driveway of his home in Rochester Hills.

He arrived at his home in a sports utility vehicle at about halftime of his former team's first exhibition game against Atlanta. Sanders said he had nothing to say to his fans, his team or the Detroit Lions organization.

"I am sorry, but I just can't talk about this," he said.

Earlier Friday, Sanders told a team official he won't reconsider his decision to retire, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"He said he gave it a lot of thought and he wants to go out on top," Lions security director Allen "Jocko" Hughes said.

Hughes is also a family friend who has been staying with Sanders' father, William, in Wichita, Kan., while the team has been trying to contact the running back.

"He said, `I've got my health and I've got my strength. If I want to do something else, I can. I didn't get injured and I've been playing football for 22 years,'" Hughes said.

Sanders, 31, had announced his retirement through a statement late last month and had not talked to any team official before speaking with Hughes on Friday.

There was no answer late Friday at William Sanders' home and a telephone message left earlier in the night was not returned.

Hughes relayed the message to Lions vice chairman William Ford Clay and chief operating officer Chuck Schmidt, according to the Free Press. Lions officials were in Atlanta at the team's 35-31 loss to the Falcons and could not be reached immediately for comment.

Hughes said Sanders "was honest and straight with me, and you have to respect that."

Sanders, 31, indicated he will talk to Ford within the next few days as a courtesy, but Schmidt said the Lions will respect his decision.

"He's not mad at the organization or anybody in it," Schmidt said. "He's basically restating what he said, he's retiring. He's been playing football for a long time and now is the time to go. And you have to respect that."

In announcing his retirement, Sanders said his desire to quit football outweighed his desire to play even to get the 1,458 yards he needs to break Walter Payton's career rushing record.

Hughes said Sanders told him the record doesn't mean anything to him.

"He said, `If I'm considered one of the top 10 football players ever to play this game, that's an honor in itself,'" Hughes said.

Hughes also said Sanders has a lot of respect for Payton, 45, who announced in February he has a rare liver disease and is awiting a transplant.

"Walter is sick and Barry wanted him to know the record is still his," Hughes said. "He knew he could come back and probably get the record, but it's not about that."

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