JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A semiprofessional football player died Tuesday night during practice.
Loved ones said Andre Sanders, 34, was an offensive lineman with the River City Commandos and died of a heart attack on a practice field in Jacksonville's Glen Myra Park.
"When it happened, I just looked at Dre and he was grabbing the ball, getting ready to hike it to me and I turned around for two seconds, getting ready to talk to a player, and when I turned back around, he was facedown on the ground," said Steve Mott, owner and coach of the River City Commandos.
Mott and Commandos player Rod Lanoir returned Wednesday to the field at Glen Myra Park. A water bottle remained in the grass where Lanoir said his teammates tried to cool Sanders down and began performing CPR.
"Once I saw he was on his back and that he wasn’t really breathing, I began CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation," Lanoir said.
But it was too late. EMTs told his teammates Sanders died before he was rushed to the hospital.
Sanders' coach and teammates said he was an amazing player and a person who everyone wanted to be around.
"I’m going to miss his presence -- just knowing that every time I looked around, I knew Andre Sanders was there, I knew he was going to be (there)," Mott said.
His teammates said they'll never be able to replace Sanders, who they said was genuine to everyone and helped the team win four championships.
"I know, personally, my season is going to be dedicated to him," Lanoir said. "And everything, my work ethic, I’m going to make sure that I put forth the effort because he’s going to be with me in spirit.”
His teammates said Sanders always put his heart on the field and died doing what he loved.
The Commandos' first game is Jan. 19, and Sanders' coach said they will be dedicating that game to Sanders.