NFL: The Dramatized Early Years of Bob Sanders

Josh ZerkleChief Writer IIISeptember 30, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 1:   Strong Safety Bob Sanders #31 of the San Diego Chargers looks on against the San Francisco 49ers during their preseason NFL Game on September 1, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San DIego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Chargers defensive back Bob Sanders will finish his fourth season in eight years on the NFL’s injured reserve list. The strong safety out of Iowa endured a knee injury in San Diego’s game against the Patriots two weeks ago. He was placed on IR yesterday.

Sanders’ aggressive play against the run has taken its toll on his small, 5-foot-8-inch frame: only twice has Sanders played in more than six games in a season. His injury concerns eventually superseded his value with the Indianapolis Colts, who released him in February. The Chargers rolled the dice on him in July, signing him to a one-year deal, and already Sanders’ year is through.

We’re left to wonder what might have been if Sanders could have stayed healthy. In 2005 and 2007, Sanders started 14 and 15 games, respectively. Both years, Sanders made the Pro Bowl. After returning from injury for the 2006 playoffs, he helped his Colts win the Super Bowl.

A career like that deserves our respect, but also nurtures our curiosity: does Sanders incur so much injury in everything he does in life? What follows is a dramatization of the life of Sanders on his way to the NFL. Sanders could arguably be one of the greatest strong safeties of his era...when healthy. But that’s like saying dolphins would be great aviators if only they had jetpacks.

Feb. 21, 1980. Demond Sanders is born in Erie, Pa., without complications. The doctor on hand pronounces the baby “perfectly healthy.” This is what we call irony.

Aug. 5, 1985. Bob loses his first tooth and puts it under his pillow that night. When his parents try to remove the tooth and replace it with money, Bob suffers a sprained neck. He would curse the Tooth Fairy for the rest of his life.

April 15, 1987. Sanders herniates a disc in an intense game of “Chutes & Ladders.” Property damage would be estimated in the mid-four figures.

Nov. 11, 1988. Sanders participates in a school-wide chess tournament and dislocates his shoulder after castling in the first game. Sanders would attempt to play through the tournament despite the injury, only to withdraw after crumbs from an oatmeal raisin cookie went down the wrong pipe.

June 13, 1993. Shortly after hitting puberty, Sanders’ voice dropped, bruising his sternum.

Feb. 21, 1996. Sanders finishes his driver’s license exam with seven dislocated fingers.

Feb. 1, 1999. Sanders signs his letter-of-intent to play for Iowa. Upon the ceremonial adornment of his new team’s cap, Sanders suffers a concussion.  

May 1, 1999. Sanders suffers a mysterious groin injury on prom night. Okay, so it wasn’t that mysterious.

I think you get the idea.