Darren Sanders, a former Baltimore Police detective who spent 18 years as the Ravens’ security director, died of cancer July 23 at his Owings Mills home. The Baltimore native was 55.
Sanders oversaw all security-related matters for the organization, including for owner Steve Bisciotti, players, coaches and staff members. He was responsible for the Ravens’ hotel security, served as a personal escort, oversaw security at the team’s Owings Mills facility and provided personal safety away from the facility.
“One of the best people I’ve ever known,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday. “One of the most stand-up people I’ve ever known. Impacted everybody in this organization one way or another, including myself. One of the best friends I’ve ever had. He was there for you in good times, tough times, especially.”
Before joining the Ravens in 2004, Sanders spent 17 years with the Baltimore Police Department, including 11 as a detective. He was selected to serve on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force, where he was honored for his work. In Baltimore, Sanders also worked with the department’s homicide division.
Current and former Ravens players paid tribute to Sanders after Harbaugh announced his death Tuesday. Torrey Smith, a Ravens wide receiver from 2011 to 2014, wrote on Twitter that he “was a great man and always had my back!” Justin Forsett, a Ravens running back from 2014 to 2016, said Sanders “was an incredible human being” and had “a heart of gold!” Defensive end Calais Campbell, who joined the Ravens last year, wrote on Instagram that Sanders was “one of the best men I’ve ever met.”
Sanders helped more than team members, too. Broadcaster Amber Theoharis, who previously covered the Ravens for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, recalled on Twitter how in 2017, when she said a “crazed fan” was stalking her, Sanders would come by her rowhouse and have police officers patrol her street. “He was a protector & loved dearly,” she wrote.
In early 2014, Sanders was swept up in the fallout from running back Ray Rice’s altercation with his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in a New Jersey casino. It was later revealed that when Sanders asked police in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and at the casino for surveillance video soon after the incident, he instead received only a description of the footage from a police official. Sanders reportedly relayed the play-by-play of the video to team executives.
In September 2014, the Ravens released Rice hours after TMZ published inside-the-elevator video of Rice knocking Palmer unconscious. The three-time Pro Bowl selection received an indefinite suspension from the NFL, though he was later reinstated.
Sanders, who served on the executive board of Baltimore’s National Academy Foundation and was a mentor for the Baltimore nonprofit Year Up, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011. He survived it, but developed a brain tumor. In December 2019, he had brain surgery and underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation to treat glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer.
Sanders told the team website last year that he was drawing inspiration from friends like O.J. Brigance. A former Ravens linebacker, Brigance was diagnosed in 2007 with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease, but has continued his work as the team’s senior adviser to player engagement.
“It’s not going to be a cakewalk,” Sanders said. “But the bigger story is what God has done, is doing and will do.”
Sanders is survived by his wife, Sharon; son, Darren II; and two daughters, Imani and Morgan.