Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The term G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) gets thrown around a lot these days, but very few can actually be considered the “greatest” in their field. Barry Sanders is one of those elite few. Many documentaries, books, and podcasts have been dedicated to analyzing his incredible career. But none have been able to definitively tell why the greatest RB in the history of football left the sport at the height of his powers. That is, until now. Sanders himself has teamed up with Amazon Prime to produce Bye Bye Barry, the definitive documentary about his career. Alongside his family and former Lions teammates, #20 sits down with the streaming service to speak on his time in the NFL, and most important of all, why he abandoned it.

Watch the Tape

The way that Barry’s highlights have been enhanced in this film is nothing less than beautiful. Watching #20 dance across the field in old YouTube videos is a good way to get a sense of how talented he was. But the restored tapes in this doc make you feel like you’re running right next to him as slips past defenders. Even if you’ve seen these replays hundreds of times, you’re going to want to see the fantastic job the filmmakers did with this footage. Everything from the colors to the smoothness of the frames is perfect. Any player would look amazing in this quality, but for Sanders, the restoration makes his feats look like pure magic. 

In-Depth Analysis

From the beginning of the documentary, the filmmakers let you know that their main goal is to make football fans understand why Barry abruptly left in the middle of his career. The storytelling matches his play style. It jumps and cuts to different points in his life unsuspectingly yet perfectly. Instead of analyzing his life linearly, they skip to different yet similar points of Barry’s career to really impress the concept that he’s always been a certain way mentally, no matter what was going on around him. So when they finally reveal his motivation for retiring, the audience is well engrained in the mind and thought process of Sanders at the time, and his decision makes all too much sense.

Barry Sanders in Bye Bye Barry. Photo Courtesy of Amazon Prime

A Stumble During the Run

While the visuals and storytelling are top-tier, there isn’t a lot of new information this documentary has to offer that other pieces of media haven’t already discussed at nausea. It certainly is the best analysis of these events, with its firsthand accounts and inspired narrative, but definitely not the most eye-opening. Even the answer to the big mystery of his retirement is fairly obvious if you’re even moderately familiar with Barry’s career. As mentioned before, this is without a doubt the definitive telling of the Barry Sanders story, but it’s a story we’ve heard before. If you go into this documentary expecting to hear some bombshell revelations, you’ll leave disappointed.

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The Verdict

Bye Bye Barry is a fantastically made film. It’s an incredible way for newer generations to be introduced to the man people call the G.O.A.T, and it’s a great watch for older fans who wish to relive prime Sanders’ football. And though the story has been told before, it’s wonderful to hear the man himself tell it. It’s definitely worth picking up an Amazon Prime subscription, and definitely worth our recommendation.

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