- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

January 31, 1988 was a glorious day for Ricky Sanders. He caught four passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter of the Washington Redskins‘ victory in Super Bowl XXII to collect his first of two Super Bowl rings. Sanders, 52 and living outside of Houston, spoke with The Washington Times about that day, the challenges of retiring and his thoughts on not being in the Redskins‘ Ring of Fame.

Question: What did you think of your time in the USFL?
Answer: That was a great time in my life. Playing with the [Houston] Gamblers, I had some great players: Jim Kelly, Hall of Famer; other guys like Clarence Verdin, Gerald McNeil. It just goes on down the line.

Q: How much did that prepare you for the NFL?
A: I don’t regret going there. It gave me the chance to learn a new position. I was a running back [at Texas State] and they moved me to a receiver there. Gave me a chance to look at the game from a different position.

Q: How did you find out you were traded by the New England Patriots to the Redskins?
A: I went in and took a physical for them. The next day, when I went to the general manager’s office, I just sat down and talked to him. ‘I got some good news and bad news.’ I think they drafted two receivers, and they said, ‘We made a trade with you last night to the Washington Redskins.’ I was like, ‘Good. All right. Yeah!’ That was one of the best deals of my life. Because I went there, and I played ball with Ken Coffey. He played with me in college. Then, Darrell Green, I played in the same conference as him, so I played against him two or three times. It was just a good fit for me to go there.

Q: Where are your Super Bowl rings?
A: In a safe deposit box. I don’t hardly wear them. I go to events in Washington, a different function, I might wear one. I’m not too big into jewelry.

Q: So, you’re not going to the supermarket with two Super Bowl rings on?
A: [Laughs] Nah. Man, they’d cut your fingers off now.

Q: What did it feel like to have 168 receiving yards in one quarter in the Super Bowl?
A: Whooo. The thing about it — it’s incredible. We just got on fire. Denver jumped up on us, 10-0, and then Doug [Williams] took over. He threw an 80-yarder to me, another one to Gary Clark, then one [to] Clint Didier, then I got another one, it was just like whew. It was going so fast, it didn’t seem like it was real.

Q: Did you guys look at each other on the sideline and think the Super Bowl was over because you were having one great quarter?
A: Oh, yeah. It was a great team effort because the defense, they played out of their mind. They shut [John] Elway down. When we finished, we were like, ‘Wow. What happened?’

Q: Doug Williams being the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl was significant. How much did you guys discuss that internally, if at all?
A: We never did. He’s a great quarterback and a great leader. It was just a matter of time for him to play the game and win the Super Bowl like he did.

Q: How did you decide it was time to retire and what was that feeling like, no more football?
A: It was a tough transition. You got two years in the USFL, then 10 years in the NFL and you’ve got the people yelling for you. You play in front of 80,000. They’re rooting, yelling, “I love ya!” All of a sudden, it’s gone. You’re like, ‘What do I do next?’ I thought it was just me. [But] it’s a whole lot of guys who finished the game and they’re like, ‘Wait a minute, what are we doing now?’ So, it was a tough transition. One thing I have to give credit to is I married a great woman when I finished playing football. She had a big influence on me. Strong lady, smart. So, I give her a lot of credit. And, No. 1, I give God all the credit. He changed me in a lot of ways and I’m thankful for that.

Q: How’s your body and brain? Obviously, we’ve seen a lot of guys come out of the NFL pretty banged up. How are you feeling?
A: I’m doing all right. Body aches every day, but I just keep spending a lot of time, especially mentally, trying to adjust to what I’ve been through. Sometimes your mind’s just not working the way … you forget things and it’s just been an adjustment, I guess you would say.

Q: You’re on a list of the 70 greatest Redskins, but you’re not in the “Ring of Fame.” Does that bother you?
A: Just a little bit, I guess. But I don’t take it too serious. If they want to put me in the “Ring of Fame,” I’ll take it. But, I’m not going to be bitter and curse the team and all this stuff. I’m not that kind of person. If it happens, it’s going to be a great day for me, the family and for the fans. I was talking to Gary Clark, he’s one of my good friends, he got inducted about three years ago. He said, ‘Rick, Mr. [Dan] Snyder didn’t even know that I wasn’t up there until somebody had to go to him and tell him.’ I saw Joe Gibbs about six months ago, I talked to him about it. He said he was going to talk to them and get a couple things straight. Maybe in a couple years, I’ll be up there.

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