The ultimate team player got the ultimate reward from his team. In the case of Barry Sanders, of course, that was money.
There were smiles all around Monday in University Center, Mich., where the Detroit Lions are training at Saginaw Valley State University. Sanders was on the field and going through drills for the first time after becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL.
Still, it came at a price. Sanders, who had a year remaining on a contract he signed in 1993, missed the team’s last minicamp and held out for the first three days of full-squad drills under new coach Bobby Ross.
“I feel rusty,” the 29-year-old said. “I have some catching up to do. But I’m not too far behind.”
Sanders, who apparently will finish his career with the Lions, agreed to a five-year contract with an option for a sixth year. The team did not disclose the terms of the contract, and Sanders declined to discuss it.
The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reported Sanders agreed to a $34.56 million contract that averages slightly more than $5.7 million a season. Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman had been the highest paid player, averaging $5.671 million a year.
Alberts fails to appear for surgery
Trev Alberts failed to show up for scheduled shoulder surgery Monday, the latest move in a confusing stalemate between the linebacker and the Indianapolis Colts.
Alberts was told to report when other veterans came to training camp in Anderson, Ind., last Thursday, but never appeared. The team is fining him $5,000 a day until the issue is resolved.
“He didn’t show up, and he’s not where we want him to be,” Colts director of football operations Bill Tobin said. “Other than that, we have no comment at this time.”
Comings, goings and absences
Intent on leaving while still on top, Chiefs left tackle John Alt retired to end a 13-year career that spanned more than one-third of the games in Chiefs history. “I’ve been involved in this sport over 30 years as a player and a coach, and I have never been around a player who I believe was more committed to what we were trying to do than John Alt. He was the standard bearer for Chiefs football,” Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer said… . Defensive end Simeon Rice missed his second and third practices with the Cardinals because of a headache of unknown origin. He was hospitalized Sunday for 12 hours.
Renaldo Wynn, the Jaguars’ No. 1 draft pick, made his training camp debut after agreeing to a contract. The defensive lineman from Notre Dame declined to discuss contract terms. … The Saints’ No. 1 draft pick, offensive lineman Chris Naeole, was taken off the practice field on a cart after injuring his left knee. An on-field examination indicated the former Colorado standout had strained or torn a knee ligament. … Chargers defensive tackle Reuben Davis underwent successful surgery to repair his torn right Achilles tendon and could miss the entire 1997 season.
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