Also receiving votes were defensive back Antonio Cromartie of San Diego with three; linebackers Mike Vrabel of New England and DeMarcus Ware of Dallas (2); and cornerback Ronde Barber of Tampa Bay, linebacker James Harrison of Pittsburgh, rookie linebacker Patrick Willis of San Francisco, and end Mario Williams of Houston, each with one vote.
Last year’s winner was Miami defensive end Jason Taylor.
Sanders’ selection came as a surprise to some with the Colts, a franchise better known for scoring points than playing physical defense.
“To me, that’s probably the biggest statement because the national perception is that we’re an offensive team,” Dungy said. “I thought for someone to win it on this team, it would take a big, big impact just to be considered.”
Sanders made sure he made it.
“I think I’m beginning to show flashes here and there of what I can do,” he said. “I can play man-to-man, I can go up and make a play on the ball, I’m making plays at the line of scrimmage or behind the line of scrimmage and I didn’t blitz a lot but when I did, I got there. I want to show everyone that’s how you can play safety in this league.”