When Barry Sanders suddenly retired in 1999, he did so by getting on a plane to London just ahead of Lions training camp. Sanders was recently in New York promoting a traveling exhibit for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal had a chance to ask him about that trip to London.
Just prior to training camp, Sanders boarded a plane to London from Detroit's metro airport. Fans on the flight wondered why Sanders was heading to Europe so close to the start of camp, and then the flight was delayed long enough that cameramen were showing up and trying to board the plane. He eventually got off the ground, and announced his retirement when the media caught up with him in Gatwick Airport (via the WSJ):
"I don't know the right way to retire. This is just my way of doing it."
Sanders spent most of his time in London alone, and enjoyed that part of the trip:
"I really love peace and quiet"
He was also satisfied with his decision to walk away from the game at 31 years of age:
"I was relieved, I felt I'd done the right thing."
Sanders has continued to travel since his retirement, visiting places like Brazil, Japan and Kenya. He's hoping to continue traveling in the future, with an NFL trip to China and skiing the Alps among trips he'd like to make.