What does Demond "Bob" Sanders mean to the Indianapolis Colts?
When you are nicknamed "The Hitman" by opposing teams, then you know that you've made a considerable impact on the football field. When you are nicknamed "The Eraser" by an all-time great head coach in Tony Dungy, not for erasing the hopes and dreams of opposing offenses...but by erasing the mistakes of his teammates and making great plays, you're leaving your mark on the football field.
So how the Colts "pretty much" completed a perfect season, and coasted into Super Bowl 44 with arguably one of the greatest defensive players in Colts history barely playing a part in this season is mystifying...
There was a point in time that arguably, Bob Sanders could've been considered the best safety in football. Now that's an extremely bold statement to make, especially now in the days of Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Darren Sharper, and other elite safeties in the game of professional football today. However, Bobby Sanders was up to the task. At just 5'8" and roughly 200 pounds, you're not supposed to be able to do the type of things that Sanders does on a football field.
He's what they call a 5-tool player; He's an elite run-stuffer, can cover like a cornerback, is a great hitter, plays an excellent centerfield, and has return skills. What more would you want from a safety?
Oh yeah, the ability to stay healthy.
There's an axiom in sports that says you cannot lose your job due to injury. Well, let me be the first to say that that's some bullsh....you get my point. When was the last time you really even THOUGHT about Bob Sanders? I know a couple of folks that thought he was out there the whole time. There are others that have literally said, "Who in the hell is Bob Sanders?" Which makes me stop and think about a couple of things...
When Troy Polamalu was out with a knee injury for the Steelers, Pittsburgh had plans to stick another body in there and continue on with that Steel Curtain defense. Well guess what? That defense turned into swiss cheese and Pittsburgh's D looks mighty suspect. Can you say the same thing about the Colts? Of course you can't, truthfully this is the best I've seen the Colts defense in my entire life. They don't look soft at the point of attack like they used to under Dungy's regime. They have always been quick, but now they hit with bad intentions and are literally looking to take you out the game.
Antoine Bethea (Hampton University stand up!) doesn't get nearly enough credit for the work he does at safety, but he is a big play safety who's putting his name in the ranks for being one of the elite players of the back third in the line of defense. Melvin Bullitt has came in now in his 3rd season from Texas A&M and has not disappointed Jim Caldwell in the slightest, his play at strong safety has over exceeded the initial expectations. The question moving forward might be is Bob Sanders expendable? Is Sanders replaceable?
Think about what I'm saying here, just in 2007 Bob Sanders was the Defensive Player of the Year...and in 2 1/2 years he's become literally an afterthought. I want Bob to comeback and show everyone how great he truly is, but he's got to get healthy first...and that's something that's not a guarantee for #21.