But when it comes to Fulmer's lifesaving skills, Sander isn't impressed -- and he ought to know after experiencing firsthand Coach Fulmer's attempt at the Heimlich Maneuver.
During a dinner meeting at Cheddar's with Fulmer in Johnson City on February 6th, Sander bit off more than he could chew - literally.
"I swallowed it, and it got caught in my throat," Sander said. "Phil said to me are you okay? And I just shook my head no."
Sander said Coach Fulmer attempted to help him as discomfort turned to sheer panic.
"I got up and Coach Fulmer tried to do the Heimlich."
But Sander says he knew right away the football legend was woefully lacking when it came to the Heimlich Maneuver.
"And you know, being an offensive lineman and a big strong guy he did the Heimlich, but I could pretty much tell what he was doing wasn't exactly right," said Sander, laughing while re-telling the News Channel 11.
What happened next may be described as providential timing - maybe just pure luck.
A highly trained Mountain States Health Alliance nurse was seated nearby. She heard the commotion and ran to Sander's and Fulmer's aid.
"It just caught my eye and I just knew from a distance that somebody needed help," Amber Campbell, a nurse practitioner with Mountain State Health Alliance who was seated nearby.
Campbell offered her help, and Fulmer willingly accepted.
"I'm thinking, this is really good because Fulmer doesn't know how to do this," said Dr. Sander, laughing. "I could see the headlines on the paper or tv the next day: 'Athletic Director dies because Fulmer can't perform Heimlich.'"
With one pump, the steak was out and Sander was breathing normally.
While Sander says he can never repay Campbell, he gave it a good try. Sander gave her a small necklace with a charm called "The Tree of Life" attached.