There comes a time in every NFL player's career when his body simply says, "no mas."
It can be a very difficult situation to come to terms with, not too many players pull a Barry Sanders and walk away in their prime.
Bob Sanders has reached that time. His body has said "no more."
The San Diego Chargers put him on IR Wednesday. He made it to two games this year, and everything points to the end of what was, for a short time, a marvelous career.
Sanders was like a bright star that simply burnt out too soon. He was a Pro-Bowl player in 2005 and 2007. That 2007 year was his best, a year like no other for a guy who simply became plagued with one injury after another.
After that '07 season, he signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. So we'd hope he's in really good shape financially.
He's not in good shape physically, at least not good enough to have a future in the NFL.
"It didn't work out for him or us and we wish him the very best," was what Chargers GM A.J. Smith said, and that sounds a lot like a farewell for a player headed for retirement.
There isn't handwriting on the wall for Sanders, it's a giant billboard that simply says "end of the line."
Sanders played six games in 2008, two in 2009, one last year and here we are in week three and he's on IR. Nothing says "end of the line" like 11 games in four years.
The Bob Sanders we will remember played with what coaches and fans love—reckless abandon. He was a hitter in the purest form of the word. Hitter.
Let's face it, the human body isn't made to withstand the kind of impact created when an explosive strong safety plows into another 200-pound body.
In the case of Bob Sanders, reckless abandon was his worst enemy.
Football is a contact sport at every level, at the highest level, contact can become very violent.
Sanders had only one speed, and that was all-out.
NFL certainly does stand for "Not For Long."
Sanders was drafted in 2004 and now, seven years later, it has become all to evident that it's time for the pounding to end.
Yes, you can play with reckless abandon.
But not for long.