Lions director of security loses battle with pancreatic cancer
Ricky Sandoval, the Lions' director of security for the past eight years, died Thursday morning at Harper University Hospital in Detroit after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Sandoval, a Royal Oak resident who turned 49 on June 30, was survived by his wife Gael. Earlier in the week, the Lions organization honored their longtime employee by naming the Allen Park facility's indoor practice field after him.
"This is a very sad day for our organization and for everyone who knew Ricky," Lions president Tom Lewand said in a release. "Ricky set a new standard for courage as he not only fought this disease, but did so with incredible spirit, dignity and determination.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gael who, like Ricky, was a tremendous inspiration to all of us as she helped Ricky fight such a courageous battle. We also extend our deepest sympathies to the families of both Gael and Ricky."
In 2006, the Lions players, coaches and staff were unanimous in selecting Sandoval to receive the franchise's nomination of the Ed Block Courage Award, an honor usually reserved for one player from each of the NFL's 32 franchises, one that recognizes men of courage in the league.
Hired as director of security in 2001, Sandoval oversaw all of the team's security needs at its Allen Park headquarters, as well as heading the security detail on the road, and acting as a liason with local law enforcement agencies. Prior to his time in Detroit, Sandoval worked for the San Francisco 49ers for 11 years (1987-98), as well as for Contemporary Services Corporation, a Texas firm that has handled security for Super Bowls in the past.
Funeral arrangements were still pending as of Thursday afternoon.