New Bob Sanders article in the Athletic and it's incredible.

JupiterHawk

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Beginning of the article - should be a 30 for 30 episodes on Bob.

They started calling him “Hitman” in college after he knocked a teammate’s shoulder out one day in practice. The coaches at Iowa eventually had to pull Bob Sanders from contact drills altogether. They couldn’t risk the Hitman taking out half the offense.

In the NFL, his coach dubbed him “The Eraser.” Bob Sanders was so good, Tony Dungy said, that he erased his own teammates’ mistakes. A rival team called him “The Missile” for the way he covered ground and crashed into any and everything in front of him.

“When he didn’t torpedo the guy or absolutely send him backwards, you were almost surprised,” Peyton Manning says now.

“No safety I’ve ever seen was that fast and hit that hard,” Dungy adds.

“Phenomenal when he played,” Tom Brady says. “One of the elite players in the league.”

During games, commentators would search for the right words to capture Sanders’ singular style. “Controlled recklessness,” Dan Dierdorf said on CBS. “A speeding bullet from the secondary,” Mike Tirico called him on ESPN. “Holy moly!” John Madden gushed on NBC.

The internet came up with its own jokes.

Bob Sanders doesn’t do push-ups. Instead, he pushes the earth down.

There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Bob Sanders allows to live.

Seventy percent of the Earth is covered by water. The rest is covered by Bob Sanders.


His career was a bolt of lightning, undeniable in impact but fleeting in duration. Demond “Bob” Sanders treated his body like a tackling dummy, and he paid the price. He was a 5-foot-8, 215-pound football anomaly, one of the greatest safeties of his era, and one of only five in history to win AP Defensive Player of the Year.

Then he was gone.

 

JupiterHawk

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It was Ferentz who pulled Sanders from contact drills in practice at Iowa. The hit Sanders laid on Fred Russell cost the running back his entire season, and Ferentz couldn’t risk losing a wideout or tight end, too. Sanders was just a little-known freshman, this undersized safety who wouldn’t start until the last month of the season. But even early on, Ferentz saw it.

This kid was different.

“If we were going full speed, it was hard to have him in there,” the coach says 20 years later. “He wasn’t trying to be difficult, that’s just who he was. Bob could not throttle down.”
 

IACub

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XUT0hM.gif
 

WinOneThisCentury II

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It's rare when an NFL defensive back can dictate what an NFL offense wants to do. You had to account for him in the running game, in the passing game, and he would occasionally safety blitz. He was exceptional in every one of those areas. A safety wins NFL Defensive Player of the Year...that is a rare feat because it's usually reserved for DTs, DEs or LBs who rush the QB. The common theme is that they harass and sack the QB.

He was one of the more interesting players to watch that I've ever seen. He could move from 10 yards off the ball to the line of scrimmage faster than any player I've ever seen play in the NFL. It was uncanny...he was always making plays in the running game without giving up yardage. He was just special.
 

SDHawkDoc

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I always thought of him as being like a guided missile on the field. Seek out the target and blow it up. Unfortunately, I also remember thinking early on during his time at Iowa that no way could his body hold up to that amount of high impact contact for long.
When healthy he was phenomenal. Even though it didn't last long it was great to see him in his prime.
 

JupiterHawk

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I always thought of him as being like a guided missile on the field. Seek out the target and blow it up. Unfortunately, I also remember thinking early on during his time at Iowa that no way could his body hold up to that amount of high impact contact for long.
When healthy he was phenomenal. Even though it didn't last long it was great to see him in his prime.

Not in Iowa City, and not in Indianapolis. The Hitman became The Eraser with the Colts. “He was ‘The Missile’ in our building,” adds Philip Rivers, whose Chargers faced Sanders three times in the mid-2000s. “That’s what we called him. Like, ‘Look out, there’s The Missile.'”

.........................

He changed what the Colts were capable of.

“In order of which safeties made me nervous when throwing the football, it was Ed Reed, then Polamalu, then Bob Sanders,” Rivers says. “But in terms of just, golly, (how) instrumental to the defense, those Raven defenses, they are better with Ed Reed, but they were still dang good. Those Steeler defenses, same deal.

“That Colts defense, to me, it was Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Bob Sanders. They had other good players — Antoine Bethea, Gary Brackett, David Thornton — but it was very much, ‘We got two edge rushers and we got Bob Sanders and that is how we built the thing.’ It was much more noticeable if Bob Sanders wasn’t out there because of what they had in totality.”
 

Herky T Hawk

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So, would this one still be legal? It looks like he is leading with his shoulder and he hits the guy in the chest. Also, the runner lowers his head a little. But the guy's head snaps back.
I would bet it would be flagged on the field today. But he led with his shoulder, landed it right in the middle of the guy’s chest, and didn’t launch as he just planted his feet and leaned into it. I’d hope that they would wave it off in review as that was a damn clean hit.
 

Daggerfoot

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The big hits were obviously what he was known for, and deservedly so. One thing I remember noticing when watching Iowa games during his time was how many drops receivers had during those games. Opposing WRs were noticibly nervous when he was on the field and drops on routine catches, even if he wasn't near the ball, were commonplace. No player I have ever seen at any level has had more of an effect on games in this way. He negatively impacted the opposition with his intangibles (and big hits), and the same attitude and play style uplifted his teammates on both sides of the ball. He was remarkable...a once in a lifetime player that I feel fortunate to have seen in person.
 

WadeLookingbill

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Minor anecdote, but watching him warm-up at field level before games you couldn't miss his intensity. Most guys were going through the motions as Doyle blew the whistle and Bob would be noticeably hyper-focused and hard charging. His game/playing speed was just at another level.
 

FlickShagwell

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I remember Him vaporizing the Michigan TE on a seam route, the Guys Helmet popped up like 10 feet straight in the Air , Ialmost felt bad for the Guy, I loved going to Kinnick to watch Bob bring the Thunder.
Pretty sure that was our TE Eric Jensen whose helmet popped up in the Michigan game after a seem route. Here he is talking smack after getting up:


erik_jensen.jpg


Were you thinking of this hit, also from that game?


bob1.jpg
 

JupiterHawk

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Pretty sure that was our TE Eric Jensen whose helmet popped up in the Michigan game after a seem route. Here he is talking smack after getting up:


erik_jensen.jpg


Were you thinking of this hit, also from that game?


bob1.jpg
I probably can't name all five of them but I can tell you this game would be in my top five Iowa games of all time. Just kind of a perfect day and game.

Oh - and the best play of the game was Bob, on a bad foot, chasing down Jason Avant on what would be a sure TD. Below is the play I found on a Michigan video.

 

FlickShagwell

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I probably can't name all five of them but I can tell you this game would be in my top five Iowa games of all time. Just kind of a perfect day and game.

Oh - and the best play of the game was Bob, on a bad foot, chasing down Jason Avant on what would be a sure TD. Below is the play I found on a Michigan video.

I was at the 02 Purdue, 02 Michigan, 03 Michigan, 04 OSU, 05 Cap One Bowl, 08 PSU, and every Iowa game in Lincoln since 2000. Somewhere in there is my top 5.

That 03 Michigan game definitely makes the cut.my buddies and I were 21 at the time and got scalped tickets 5 rows behind Michigan’s bench. My buddy kept making fun of Chris Perry’s taped wrists with “MOM” written on them. He kept turning around to stare my friend down. I think we got to him! I’ve never heard Kinnick as loud as it was on Michigan’s last possession. That’s not hyperbole.
 

TJFant

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My son and I ran into the Hitman and Jermelle Lewis before the "Spring Practice" in 2005 or 2006 and visited for a few minutes. Pretty quiet but very nice and respectful. My son was blown away by how muscular Bob's 5'8" frame was!