When healthy, Bob Sanders is one of the top safeties in the NFL. I list him right up there with Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. All 3 of these guys have suffered injuries over the last few years and their defenses have struggled immensely while they were out. Sanders was considered at the top of his game in 2007, while playing safety for the Indianapolis Colts. That year he also signed a 5 year $37 million contract. Unfortunately for the Colts, Sanders, and the fans, he has only played in 8 games the last 2 years. Most recently, he missed 14 games in 2009 due to a torn biceps tendon. Indianapolis hopes that he is back to his old form, but are worried due to all the injuries he has suffered in his career. The Colts defense is a lot more aggressive when Sanders is in the game. He is a smaller, but physical safety. He's not afraid to run up and hit a big tight end and he's not a liability in pass coverage.
Sanders recently stated,
"I've been able to rehab myself back to pretty decent health where I can actually practice full-time. OTA's have really gone well for me. The knee has been doing great. The arm has been doing great. I feel great."
The story would usually end there. This is where it's gets interesting though. Even though Sanders has said all the right things and the team seems to echo the same sentiment, there is another side to the coin that says the complete opposite. Michael Lombardi, best known for NFL network's show, Total Access, personnel executive for the Raiders, and writer of the National Football Post blog, says that this is all a smokescreen. Lombardi, in his most recent blog entry on NFL.com, wrote that "There is some concern Colts safety Bob Sanders might never be able to play football again, with his shoulder and bicep issues. He reduced his contract, but his rehab has been slow."
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When news of this article reached Sanders' agent, Tom Condon, he refuted the notion that Sanders had restructured his contract. He also said that Bob isn't facing any new injury news. That last part isn't a ringing endorsement for Sanders' health. When the Colts were asked about the situation, they too said that there wasn't any change since June on the injury front. They were very vague, as was Condon. Indianapolis did dismiss any story that a contract was restructured. I have included a video of Bob Sanders from earlier this off season with this article. I usually like to watch body language and decide if someone is lying. In this video, Sanders shows no emotion while speaking about how excited he is for his upcoming season. This doesn't mean he's lying about his health. I don't know his personality and he could be a very retained individual. I just felt that it was interesting, with the circumstances around his injury. I've included it for you to make your own judgment.
If this last paragraph makes you feel that I'm on the side of Lombardi, you couldn't be further from the truth. I simply want to lay out both sides of this entanglement. Lombardi, who has no blood relation to the great coach, Vince Lombardi, has been called into questionable reporting before. Some concerns that I have about this article are, if a player of Bob Sanders stature was lying about his health and you have the inside scoop on his career actually being over, why would you not mention this until the very last paragraph of a lengthy blog entry. He couldn't have been more vague about the situation and nonchalant. Oh, by the way I just wanted to mention that Peyton Manning is now retired from football and joining the Miami Heat.
If you read this posting of his, you will notice ground breaking paragraphs such as "I also loved spending time with Beason. He was great and has a solid feel for the league." Seriously, you are going to put that above the Sanders story? Mike Tyson to come out of retirement and fight a chicken but to more important news, Tom Brady changed a diaper today.
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I live by the 33% percent rule when writing. I try and get your attention in the top 1/3 of the article or you will not read the remaining 2/3. Lombardi doesn't give any sources as well. If he knew this information to be correct, wouldn't he state that John Smith or whoever told him the situation. The Colts, Bob Sanders, and Tom Condon, all came out and said that the contract was never redone. How does Michael Lombardi respond to this, you ask? He doesn't.
When talking to my kids, I'm trying to find out the truth with opposing stories. The first kid that tells me anything false in their story, I know to not believe the rest of their story. To punish them, I make them go read Michael Lombardi articles. Ok, that last sentence was a joke. I would have my kids taken away from me if I put them through horrific punishment like that. I mean honestly, have you ever listened to Lombardi on Total Access pronouncing players' names. He incorrectly says 4 out of 10 names. It's pronounced Matt Schaub not Matt Schwab. Is this not like a knife to your ears for anyone else. How much could you trust the investigative reporting of a guy who can't even investigate how to say last year's top passing QB's name.
Usually when there are two sides to a story, you need someone to break the tie. Pro Football Weekly reported that Bob Sanders fully participated in OTA's for the 1st time ever. It was reported that Sanders looked like "a fresh colt". They also stated that while on the field he looked excited and energetic. It's kind of hard to go against a 3rd party that has nothing vested in this story and gave Sanders a passing grade in the eye test. I'll let you make your own decision after reading this article and watching the video. I would love to hear your point of view on the whole situation and your take on Lombardi as a reporter. I'll leave you with one minor news story.
Jacksonville Jaguars moved franchise to Florence, SC last night and my parents will be running the team. When reached for comment, Mr. and Mrs. Braddock said "we don't know much about football but neither do the Raiders." My source on this news clip was Michael Lombardi......... - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX once a week as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk.