(ALLEN PARK, MI) – Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Charlie Sanders, whose career with the Lions organization spanned each of the last five decades, passed away earlier yesterday after a courageous battle with cancer. No individual other than long-time owner William Clay Ford has been affiliated with the Lions longer than Charlie’s 43 years with the organization.
Perhaps the team’s greatest ambassador, Charlie was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and most recently served as the Lions Assistant Director of Pro Personnel. He was 68.
“Today we lost one of the greatest Detroit Lions of all time,” Lions team President Tom Lewand said. “Charlie was a special person to the entire Lions family for nearly a half century. While never forgetting his North Carolina roots, “Satch” became the consummate Detroit Lion on and off the field. He was a perfect ambassador for our organization and, more important, was a true friend, colleague and mentor to so many of us. Our prayers are with Georgianna, his children, grandchildren, and the entire Sanders family. We are grateful for the considerable personal and professional legacy Charlie leaves to us.”
In the history of the National Football League, few have ever been as closely associated with a franchise as Sanders with the Lions.
During his outstanding career in professional football, Sanders became a Hall of Fame tight end for the Lions (1968-77), served on coaching staffs (1989-96) that led the Lions to four playoff appearances and two division titles , scouted in the team’s player personnel department (1998-2015), and called Lions games as a radio broadcaster (1983-88, 1997).
Over the past several years, while working in the player personnel department, he also contributed to the team’s preseason television broadcasts.
Beyond his direct role with the team, Sanders made significant contributions to the community through both the team’s community relations programs and most recently through The Charlie Sanders Foundation and Have A Heart Save a Life program.
Sanders is survived by his ex-wife Georgianna and their children Mia, Charese, Mary Jo, Georgianna, Charlie Jr, Tallisa, Wayne, and Jordan. He was preceded in death by their daughter Nathalie. He is also survived by daughter Angela and son Lee.