Although the diminutive Sanders stood just 5-foot-8, he could lay opposing players out with reckless abandon.
Simply put, Sanders was a human torpedo who was one of the hardest-hitting safeties of his era.
Little wonder he won 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
He was also instrumental in the Colts’ run to Super Bowl XLI earlier that year.
Unfortunately, injuries took a massive toll on Sanders’ promising NFL career.
Had Sanders stayed healthy, he would have earned a gold jacket and bust in Canton, OH.
Sanders’ Career With The Colts From 2004-2010
The Colts made the former Iowa Hawkeyes standout the 44th overall selection of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Sanders got off to a slow start in his pro football career – he appeared in just eight games as a backup safety and special teams player as a rookie in 2004.
Sanders became a focal point of the Colts defense the following season.
In only Sanders’ second pro campaign, he earned a reputation as a safety who could cover like a cornerback and hit like a linebacker.
He earned the nickname “The Eraser” for his ability to pummel opposing players who dared cross his path.
He had 71 total tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in 2005 on his way to earning the first of each of his two Pro Bowl and two First-Team All-Pro career selections.
Behind Sanders’ exploits at strong safety, Indy won a gaudy 14 games in 2005 and won its third straight division title.
Sanders couldn’t build on his momentum in 2006 as he missed 12 regular-season games due to injury.
Sadly, it was a recurring theme in his pro gridiron career.
Sanders returned in time for the 2006 postseason to help shore up the Colts’ leaky run defense.
Herein lies the Sanders difference: opponents gashed the Colts’ run defense for an average of 173 rushing yards during the regular season.
When he suited up for the postseason, that average plummeted dramatically to just 82.8 rushing yards per game.
Sanders had two picks, four pass breakups, and a forced fumble in the 2006 postseason.
His most memorable interception was picking off Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman in the waning moments to secure Indy’s 29-17 victory in Super Bowl XLI.
Bob Sanders in #Colts Super Bowl XLI
— Peyton2Luck™️ (@Peyton2L) January 31, 2019
A photograph of Sanders kissing the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the awarding ceremonies became a popular trend on newspapers and social media.
Sanders appeared in a career-high 15 games and racked up 71 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery in 2007.
To nobody’s surprise, he earned another First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection at season’s end.
Sanders winning 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors was the pinnacle of his football career.
Just as Sanders reached the summit of his NFL career, he plummeted just as quickly.
He appeared in a combined 11 regular-season games in the final four years of his career due to an assortment of injuries.
Sanders eventually retired following a one-year stint with the then-San Diego Chargers in 2011 and promptly rode off into the sunset.
He concluded his injury-riddled eight-year pro football career with 224 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and one defensive touchdown.
Setting The Bar High At The Safety Position
Sanders became a nominee for entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the fall of 2016.
He was that good.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) November 21, 2019
Alas, Sanders’ extensive injury history will serve as a massive hindrance in his enshrinement aspirations.
Here’s hoping Sanders will become a member of the Colts Ring of Honor someday.
Although Sanders’ injuries drastically limited his time on the field, he made the most of it when he wore the Horseshoe.
Sanders didn’t just play – he played all out.
Sanders didn’t just hit – he hit opposing players like a massive freight train.
Those speak volumes about the 5-foot-8 human wrecking ball they call “The Eraser.”