Barry Sanders, apparently fed up with the Detroit Lions' mediocre record and Coach Bobby Ross, will retire from the NFL, his agent told ESPN and the Detroit Free Press tonight.
David Ware, one of the two agents who handles the running back's affairs, said Sanders would issue a statement Wednesday announcing his retirement and wouldn't be available to comment.
According to ESPN, Sanders told Ware and his other agent, Lamont Smith, of his retirement plans Monday. The agents were unable to dissuade him, even with the argument that he is only 1,457 yards shy of the NFL career rushing record.
"There's a line that says, `I've determined that my . . . desire to leave is greater than my desire to continue playing.' Or words to that effect," Ware told the Free Press.
The Lions wouldn't confirm or deny the report.
"At this point we really have no comment on the various reports regarding Barry," Lions spokesman Bill Keenist said. "If anything should materialize, there will be an announcement. To comment any further would be speculation."
Ware and Smith didn't return calls seeking comment from the AP.
Last week, Ross said the Lions would not trade Sanders. That came after a report that the Washington Redskins were interested in pursuing a trade for the running back.
Ware told the Free Press he was shocked by Sanders's decision. Ware declined to speculate on the exact reasons for the decision but said it was outlined thoroughly in the statement Sanders had written.
"I read the statement," Ware said. "I didn't write it; he wrote it himself. It was very thoughtful, very well thought out, and he has come to a decision that he thinks is best for him. What can you do?"
The Detroit News also quoted a source as saying that Sanders will retire, saying it is not a negotiation ploy.
"When you retire, you retire from football," the source told the newspaper.
Sanders was the only veteran absent from the Lions' mandatory minicamp in May.
Ross and other members of the front office said they had not heard from Sanders in the offseason, and he missed the mandatory and voluntary minicamps.
Veterans are scheduled to report to camp Thursday.
Sanders was a training-camp holdout in 1989, '91 and '97. All were related to contract negotiations.
JETS: Offensive lineman Jumbo Elliott and ex-Jet Matt O'Dwyer, now with the Bengals, are being sued for $6.3 million because of a barroom brawl earlier this month. Three police officers and two people who were in the bar are suing, saying they were injured.
An attorney for the five filed the suit Monday in state Supreme Court in Nassau County (N.Y.). It seeks $1.3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages against O'Dwyer and Elliott, according to attorney Lawrence Elovich.
COWBOYS: Dallas signed top draft pick Ebenezer Ekuban to a five-year, $5.65 million contract. "He's tired, but he's here," said Cowboys VP Stephen Jones after the 20th overall pick arrived at camp after completing the 3:30 a.m. deal. The package included a $3.525 million signing bonus, according to Jones.
TITANS: DE Jevon Kearse planned to be at training camp all along, and not even switching agents was going to stop him. Tennessee's top draft pick kept to his plan when he and his new agent, Leigh Steinberg, agreed to a five-year, $6.1 million contract hours before a mandatory team dinner for rookies and selected veterans.
JAGUARS: LB Bryce Paup tore a pectoral muscle while lifting weights last week and is sidelined indefinitely.