INDIANAPOLIS — Late last week, Rigoberto Sanchez learned he had been diagnosed with cancer.
With a surgical procedure in the books the following week to remove the tumor, no one would've blamed Sanchez if he sat out Sunday's Week 12 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
But Sanchez is a fighter. If he can play, he'll play.
He punted five times in all on Sunday, averaging more than 50 yards per kick, one of which was downed inside the 20-yard line. He put down perfect holds on two Rodrigo Blankenship extra-point attempts. He also attempted an onside kick late in the fourth quarter.
Sanchez wanted to fight for his teammates, for his coaches — for the Indianapolis Colts fans.
This week, however, the real fight begins.
The Colts punter on Monday publicly revealed his diagnosis, expressing his gratitude that doctors "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," Sanchez wrote. "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."
Colts head coach Frank Reich on Monday expressed just how much love and admiration he has for Sanchez, who is considered "one of the most well-liked and respected players in our building."
"I just want to reiterate how fortunate we are to have him as a leader, a teammate and a friend," Reich said. "We know that is how he is going to handle this off the field. We have no doubt that he will overcome this."
Understandably, at this moment, there's no exact timetable for Sanchez's possible return to football activities. Reich said the Colts began the process of finding a temporary replacement punter upon receiving news about Sanchez's diagnosis late last week.
"We don't want to put any date on a timetable, but we're very optimistic, and knowing Rigo, God willing it will be sooner rather than later," Reich said. "But we just have to take that, see how the procedure goes and everything there.
"We love Rigo, we're here supporting him and just praying for a speedy recovery."
Colts Nation, the NFL and professional/college sports community and those closest to Sanchez had plenty of well wishes for No. 8 on Monday. Here are just a few of those posts: