Spring 2021 Magazine

Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez trusting in God's plan as he undergoes surgery for cancerous tumor

Indianapolis Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez revealed on Monday that he recently found a cancerous tumor that needs to be removed immediately, but he’s trusting in “God’s plan.” Sanchez, who played on Sunday despite learning of his cancer diagnosis last week, will have the surgery Tuesday.

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Many from around the NFL offered prayers for Sanchez upon seeing his Instagram post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rigo Sanchez (@rjsanchez)


“Like I said before, it’s always God’s plan and it will always be bigger than my plans,” Sanchez wrote. “So grateful to be surrounded by doctors that helped me catch the cancerous tumor before it spread all over my body. I will be getting surgery on Tuesday and I know that it will not be an easy bump on the road, but I know I have my amazing wife supporting me along with family, coaches, and friends reaching out.

“Unfortunately, there are things you can’t control in life and this is one of them. No plans or preparation would have gotten me ready for this kind of adversity, but like I told my wife, we can’t flinch. Keep striving to come back stronger than ever. Makes me sick that I’ll have to miss some time playing beside my brothers, but I know they will hold it down. I will be watching. Love y’all. #God’sPlan #ColtsNation”

Sanchez, 26, has averaged 47.2 yards per punt this year, tied for ninth in the league. Fifteen of his 31 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line. The fourth-year punter, who also handles the Colts’ kickoffs and is the holder for field goals, signed as an undrafted free agent with Indianapolis in May 2017 after playing collegiately at Hawaii. In June 2019, Sanchez received a four-year contract extension for $11.6 million.

Colts head coach Frank Reich spoke to the media Monday and said Sanchez still wanted to play against Tennessee on Sunday despite learning of the cancer, and the team allowed him to punt but had kicker Rodrigo Blankenship handle kickoff duties.

“We have no doubt he’ll overcome this,” Reich said. “We’re very optimistic about the prognosis and about the timetable to come back. We don’t want to put any date on a timetable (to return). And knowing Rigo, God willing, it’ll be sooner rather than later. We love Rigo. We’re here and supporting him, just praying for a speedy recovery.”

Sanchez, who is described as one of the most popular players in the Colts locker room, and his coach remain positive.

“The conversation I had with Rigo, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that he does what he does for a living, that he’s pushing his body all the time, feels that something’s not right and catches it early,” Reich said. “Everything I’m getting from our medical people is very optimistic.”

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