Dry your eyes Colts fans, Bob Sanders will be fine

September 15, 2010
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If you’re crying for Bob Sanders this morning, feel free to wipe your tears. It is a crying shame for the Colts and Colts fans that they won’t have The Eraser to count on and cheer for—again this year.

Maybe the Horseshoe is better with him, though with the emergence of Melvin Bullitt and the team’s run last year, that’s increasingly difficult to argue.

And I’m sure Sanders himself is extremely disappointed he won’t be able to play—likely this year, and maybe forever—a game he loves.

But suggesting that poor old Bob Sanders is having his feet cut out from under him financially is ridiculous. Bringing up the notion that the NFL stands for Nor For Long, meaning careers are cut short while fans pick up and cheer another player, well, cry me a river.

First it should be noted, that Sanders got a rare offer of a free college education. But forget that for a moment. It was suggested today that if Sanders is careful with his money, he might be OK. Really?

If Colts fans and followers want to be concerned about Sanders' physical health, fine. That's a legitimate concern. But his financial health? Let me allay your fears. Unless he's a drug addict or a complete fool, and there's absolutely no indication that he's either, then he'll be just fine.

Let’s take a look at just the guarantees from his current contract: $20 million. Now I’m no math major, but even I can figure out that it would take a police officer, fire fighter or school teacher making $60,000 annually 333.33 years to make that sort of loot. Even a mid-level executive making $120,000 yearly would need to work more than a lifetime to catch-up to what Sanders knocked down in guarantees from the contract he signed three years ago. Forget about the pocket change he knocked down with his rookie contract. Yes, those are big pockets.

Yes, I’m aware that the big, bad tax man comes along and takes a lot of Sanders’ hard-won cash. I’m not a tax attorney, but my estimates show he should still have at least $14 million to pocket from his current contract after Uncle Sam takes his cut. That’s just his current contract.

Guys who wash out of the league in their first four years might have some kind of justification to cry about their financial plight,  because few rookies (except first rounders) are getting much in terms of guarantees. But consider that the lowest paid NFL rookie this year is making around $300,000. Even practice squad players make six-figures. The average wage for a U.S. college graduate these days: $36,000. I’d say the guys landing on NFL rosters, even for a year or two, are getting a nice head start in life. And no student loans to worry about to boot.

As far as Sanders having career opportunities after his playing days are done, well, I’m pretty sure plenty of people will pick up the phone when the 29-year-old gives them a jingle. Playing in the NFL has a way of filling your Rolodex pretty quickly with powerful people’s business cards.

Maybe fans don’t take much time to consider the injury potential NFL players take each Sunday. That’s probably because they’re too busy considering the 45 or so years they’ll be spending in the tin pan themselves.

  • bullseye
    I don't feel sorry for Bob, I just feel sorry for myself and the rest of the Colts fans who will miss seeing this incredible, short-lived talent play for our hometown team. RIP Bob. See you on the networks. More cha-ching for you.
  • on drugs
    Am I the only one who suspects Bob Sanders pumped up his arms with performance enhancing drugs, causing his biceps to blow out. I'm not sure I've ever seen arm muscles quite that big and defined from simply pumping iron. If that's the case there is absolutely no need to feel sorry for Sanders.
  • headline
    Anthony - when i read the headline, i thought Sanders was ok and would be playing this weekend?
  • sorry for the confusion
    Sorry about that Jerry. As a business journalist, I meant financially speaking. I'll try to be more clear going forward. Either way, though, I think the Colts will be fine (as long as No. 18 stays healthy). Thanks for reading.
  • conspiracy
    Is it possible, Bob Sanders had this injury long before the first regular season game, but needed to play at least part of one game to collect his entire season's paycheck. It sure didn't look like rolling over once could have caused such a biceps tendon tear. If he did injure it during that game, count me on on the drug-use conspiracy.
  • Right on target
    Great commentary! It is right on point. I get so tired of people talking about the poor players and how they are used. As you said, free ride to college is more then a vast majority of the hard working kids get who attend college. We should all be so lucky to get bonuses and guarantees on what "we have potential to do"

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