By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It wasn’t Barry Sanders’ scene. Everything was about him, his Heisman season and the reunion of the 1988 Oklahoma State football team.
But the humble Heisman Trophy winner from Wichita, Kan., embraced the moment — meeting with adoring fans, taking time to talk with the media and addressing the 2013 Cowboy squad after their 42-6 dismantling of Kansas.
“He addressed our team in the locker room and he’s one of the few guys from back in our generation where the players actually know who he is — they’ve seen a lot on him and have a lot of respect for the type of person and player he was,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy, who was the quarterback on that ‘88 team. “He did a nice job of talking to our team after the game.”
Gundy said the former Cowboy great usually makes it a point to return to Stillwater for OSU football games, but never makes it known when he does — it’s just not his style.
But he spent more than 15 minutes fielding questions from the media before Saturday’s game, giving lengthy responses — a far cry from his Heisman days, when it took everything to get a word out of him.
“He’s become a very good speaker. Obviously he’s done it enough with his time in the NFL and dealing with media and fans,” Gundy said. “He’s very well-spoken and handles himself well and says the right things.”
While Sanders was just a part of the halftime recognition of the 1988 Cowboy team, which went 10-2 with a 62-14 win in the Holiday Bowl and was the winningest team in program history until the 2011 team, he was later recognized individually in the third quarter for the 25th anniversary of winning the Heisman Trophy.
“I’m pretty sure it’ll be varied emotions, just memories and excitement and almost sadness that it has been so long,” Sanders said. “But at the same time, just thinking about how that year really changed my life, and also being able to be with the guys that were there that I experienced it with.”
And no matter what was asked of him, he always remained a humble Midwestern man — proud of his parents, his family, his alma mater and his accomplishments.
“Time has flown by, but there’s so many great memories and great people. I’m that guy that grew up watching all those Heisman Trophy winners prior to me, whether it was Vinny Testeverde, Doug Flutie, Marcus Allen or Billy Sims, I was studying those guys as a kid,” Sanders said. “So the fact that my name will go down with theirs and have had the same type of impact on the game, is remarkable for me.”