I wanted to give you all a quick update on the story that NFL Network's Mike Lombardi buried at the end of his article titled, "Owens has only himself to blame for his struggles finding a team." As many of you know, in the article, at the very, VERY end of his Extra Points section, Mike posted this little nugget about Colts safety Bob Sanders:
There is some concern Colts safety Bob Sanders might never be able to play football again, with his shoulder and bicep issues. He reduced his contract, but his rehab has been slow.
Since Monday, when most people saw the article on NFL.com, I've been reaching out to Mike's camp asking for clarification on what some of these "concerns" were pertaining to Bob Sanders' health. I doubled my efforts when Sanders' agent and the Colts themselves were forced to respond to the Lombardi article, saying they knew of "no new injury issues."
In general, I like Mike Lombardi and I think he does a good job reporting on the league for NFL Network and NFL.com. He used to work for National Football Post, which is a NFL news and information site that SB Nation is partnered with. When Mike worked for NFP, he did a good job reporting on Peyton Manning's surgically repaired knee in the Summer of 2008. Mike was the only one who got the scoop that Peyton had not one but two surgeries that summer, a fact the team tried to hide from prying media. Lots of nay-sayers questioned Lombardi on the second knee surgery report, and those nay-sayers were wrong. Since then, I've given Mike the benefit of the doubt on any controversial story he's published.
Based on Lombardi's former work with NFP, and my relationships at the NFL, I was able to get word to "the powers that be" that I wanted to talk to Mike in order to get a follow-up on the Sanders story. Tom Condon and the Colts organization had, essentially, refuted it. I figured Mike deserved a shot to offer a few follow-up details to the story. Heck, even a simple "I stand by my sources" would be enough for me.
The people I talked to at the NFL were very helpful and accommodating in setting up a phone meeting with Mike and I. However, there was just one small problem: Mike never called me. From Monday-Friday, I waited for Mike's call. Then, after a few days of emails to the NFL "powers that be" asking, "Hey guys, what's up? Haven't heard from Mike. Everything OK?" My emails were then met with silence.
Hopefully, next week, I'll get that call from Mike, or an explanation from the NFL, and we can square away any haziness that has resulted from the Sanders story. However, based on the silence I am getting, I'm starting to think the story was BS. Maybe Mike's sources were incorrect. Who knows? I just would like to hear, from Mike himself, that he stands by the story. He did that in 2008 when people questioned him, and he was right.
It would be nice to see him do it now. Until I see, or hear, Mike do that, I have to assume that the story is not true. In fact, I'm very much hoping it isn't. I want to see a healthy Bob Sanders in 2010.