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HomeSportsDeion Sanders and Colorado aren't slowing down off Oregon loss

Deion Sanders and Colorado aren’t slowing down off Oregon loss

BOULDER, Col. — Deion Sanders doesn’t need to be a football coach.

This is real. he does not know. He has money in the bank, having put it away long before he signed his current $6 million per year contract with the University of Colorado. If he wanted, he could go back to being a TV analyst. He could write another book. He could star in another reality show. He could, like other living sports legends, cash in on the memorabilia show every weekend, signing jerseys of the Falcons, Niners, Cowboys, Braves and Yankees, one of his six Sports Illustrated covers. One, or maybe the CD that MC Hammer recorded back in the day.

But instead, he chose to keep working on perhaps the most difficult, and certainly the most non-stop, around-the-clock job in college sports as the head coach of a publicly supported state flagship FBS Power 5 college football program.

“People always ask me, ‘How are you, man?’ and my answer is simple,” the 56-year-old College Football Hall of Famer explained. “I’m doing great. I just can’t sleep because there’s no time for sleep in this job.”

In just one month on the sidelines in Colorado, Sanders not only served as de facto CEO of a company worth nearly $51 million (and that was before he arrived, and the 2023 figure will be much larger than that ), he also became a front-porch salesman at a $21 billion university, getting into a very public feud with a rival coach (and nearly being pushed into another) that galvanized Buffalo football Team merchandise sales grew nearly 900% and brought ABC its highest college football television ratings in six years.

Call him prime time. Just call him Neon Dion. Just call him Coach Prime. No matter what nickname you prefer, the monikers and catchphrases on T-shirts (Sanders just filed for five trademarks this week) are nothing more than the man who electrified Florida State in 2017 as a three-sport athlete latest version of decoration. In the 1980s, the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) entered the 1990s. Now, nearly two decades after hanging up his boots for good, he’s the face of college football in 2023. This guy can make as much money on NIL as anyone before or since. This person can be transported through the portal to any list he chooses. Now, he’s helping today’s kids get through it all. Prime time comes at the right time.

Oh, by the way, his team is also 3-1. Even with the overhaul of the lineup, it’s a miraculous turnaround for a program that won just one game and was ESPN’s bottom-10 winner a year ago. However, after a stunning 3-0 start, the “1” hit Wile E. Coyote like an anvil over the head last weekend. The team lost 42-6 to Oregon State, immediately knocking the Buffs out of the top 25 and recruiting the same guys who have been ranting about Sanders since the Zubaz era.

“When I came out of the womb, I was booed,” Sanders said Tuesday when asked how he dealt with haters. “I don’t have a message to my critics. I’m not going to take the time to respond and defend myself. Why would I do that? If I did, I’d give you a microphone. I’d give you a microphone.” You showed up in my life. I do not care. I really don’t care. I’ve been like this my whole life, so you’d think I’d be used to it. I’m no stranger to this, I’m like, ‘This is real. I’m going to keep moving forward. So, I’m happy with it, man. I’m happy with it. It’s a comfortable place for me.’

Now, for you young people out there, it feels like you need an explanation. You’ve probably spent the last month, or at least that last sentence, wondering, “Why are my parents and grandparents so excited — for better or worse — about this guy who coaches in Colorado?”

The answer can be found in the first few paragraphs. Sanders, a Seminole, stood facemask to facemask in front of Jimmie Johnson’s Miami Hurricanes without blinking. He used to stick around in the foothills of Clemson Mountain like Captain America facing an entire army of Thanos, slapping his chest pads and laughing at Tigers as they touched Howard Rocks and ran towards him … …and then interrupted a 77-yard punt return for a TD in heavy rain. He won league championships in baseball and track and field on the same day.

He went to the Super Bowl and World Series, the only one to do so. He earned two Super Bowl rings, eight Pro Bowl invitations and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. He did record an album with MC Hammer (download “Must Be The Money,” trust me) and made guest appearances on everything from Moesha to Walker to Texas Ranger. He is the spokesperson for Sega Genesis Soccer. On Sunday night, everyone was on the couch watching “NFL Prime Time,” ESPN’s eponymous show, with Chris Berman and Tom Jackson covering Sanders’ every moment. Video of an interception, pick-six, catch return and touchdown reception (yes, he plays both ways from time to time) and chants of “Prime Time…Prime Time…Prime Time!”

So, yes, Gen Z, what your elders are trying to tell you is that, whether they were strutting around their living rooms or giving the middle finger at College GameDay in Boulder, Deion Sanders was there before the Internet It somehow became popular, when the word was still only applied to diseases.

But now, Sanders finds himself struggling with his health. His toes were already bruised from years of running around the sideline and baseline. In September 2021, after routine surgical repair of an old injury, a more serious condition was discovered and circulation problems resulted in the amputation of two toes and the removal of some leg musculature to limit circulatory damage. He was just starting his second season as head coach at Jackson State University, an HBCU in Jackson, Miss., and was forced to miss three games. When television cameras showed the image of Nyon Dion suddenly looking older, lying in a hospital bed with a gray beard, it was a complete shock to those who had witnessed the peak of his athletic prowess.

For Sanders, too, it was a revelation.

“When your body breaks down, it’s a reality check like never before,” he recalled days after accepting the Colorado job in December 2022. “For anyone, it’s a reality check. But for me, as a young man, my whole world was created through what this body could do, and it wasn’t just a reality check. Check. That’s a vulnerability roll. As you get older, you’ll find your weaknesses.” Know that you have to rely more on your mind muscles, but when your other muscles no longer work for you, the mind needs to be trained muscles, you realize you need to keep going. Start using it to impact your life. “

Taking the job at Jackson State was a step no one saw coming, and Sanders simply explained it as a “collect call from God and I had no choice but to accept the charge.” His first Tigers team went 3-2 in the pandemic-shortened 2021 spring schedule. Over the next two years, the team went 23-3 in two Celebration Bowl appearances.

“My memory of Deion at Jackson State, he would mow the grass with the lawnmower he brought from home,” recalls Emmitt Smith, a Cowboys teammate. “That’s who he is, man. I think it’s easy to focus on prime time and the show and the soundtrack, but you can’t get to where he is without hard work. I know what people have seen him do on shows produced by HBCUs People are like, should I go there? I know I did. And I know Dean went. Now new kids are going to go.”

Smith and nearly every other former teammate of No. 21 loves to talk about Deion Sanders’ evolution. See: In his 2008 book “Boys Will Be Boys,” Jeff Pearlman recounted the infamous story of Sanders’ arrival in Dallas in 1995. When Sanders was in the position meeting room with defensive coordinator Dave Campo for the first time, Sanders pointed to the video screen and said, “Hey, coach, I got that guy over there. Wherever he goes, I go. All the Cover 2 stuff is frustrating you.” Talking, y’all address this. “

The guy who was once allergic to film study now keeps an instant spreadsheet of how much time his players spend watching film. On Tuesday, he was asked about the lack of playing time for freshman corner Commani McClain, who explained that despite being Colorado’s most hyped offseason signing, a five-star prospect transferred from Miami .

“Study and prepare. Show up for meetings on time, show up for central meetings,” Sanders said. ‘Understand the plan. Knowing the program we’re working on, wanting to play this game, hungry to play this game, hungry to be the best in this game, in practice, in the film room and on your own time. Did you know I check each player’s tape time so I know who’s preparing? This is not just a Komani thing. If I can’t see that and you send someone out there who’s not prepared, you’re a fool. Can’t do it, won’t do it. “

Then again, it was Sanders, so social media and local sports talk radio immediately became a tug-of-war between those who were tearing the coach apart for publicly calling out a kid (not the first time), and those who People who applaud Sanders for calling out five stars. Do this without fear of alienating potential future signees.

The reality is that McLean will likely have to play Saturday against No. 8 USC because Colorado’s secondary is banged up. Sanders is also suffering recently. Safety Shilo Sanders, the second of Deion’s five children, had to be hospitalized after he urinated blood when the team returned from Oregon. Younger brother Shedeur is the team’s quarterback and younger sister Shelomi is a member of the Colorado women’s basketball team, both of whose records are documented by older brother Deion Jr., who is the man behind all of the Colorado Athletic Department’s social media posts this season.

“Even though we got the ‘L’ (against Oregon State), when I not only get to see my sons on the field playing, but I get to see my sons film everything and edit it and post it, I’m not Consider it a loss. To have people across the country feel insecure about their employees and then I see my daughter come into my office and take a nap on the couch,” Sanders said Tuesday. “I’ve had a wonderful double life here as a father and as a coach. I’ve loved every minute of it.”

So what does a 56-year-old lifelong lightning rod mean to a room full of Gen Zers and a locker room full of them? Are these Gen Zers unfamiliar with the constant noise that rolls over Colorado football like a boulder? That’s the luxury tax they’ll have to pay when they become the new Georgetown Hoyas, Fab Five or — sorry FSU fans — America’s Team.

“It’s not about them, it’s about us, wherever we go,” he explained on Tuesday. “Even in your family, you have detractors, naysayers, even in your modern family, you have doubters. You’re all shaking your head, like, ‘Yeah, my aunt, she Not good,’ and, ‘Yeah, my sister, she’s ignorant. “You know I’m telling the truth. Because that’s how it’s going to be. God will always allow someone to walk in your path who despises or dislikes you. It’s up to you to keep walking.”

That’s it. Our answer. Because, no, Deion Sanders doesn’t need to coach football. To be honest, Primetime didn’t want to do that. He is impatient. We learn this in some of his pre-coaching educational and business failures.

But this is Coach Prime. The guy with gray hair, bad feet, constant cautionary tales and all those catchphrases. Neon Dean made a mistake. Coach Prime wants to make sure these kids, especially his own, don’t do the same thing. You’re going to love Deion Sanders. You can hate Deion Sanders. Many people do it, always have, and always will. But his efforts are certainly appreciated, his words are always honest, and the world of college football is a more interesting place with him around. He knows this. That’s why he can’t walk away.

Plus, winning football games is still fun.

“I’m not gonna stop. I’m gonna keep going. I’m not gonna stop. No matter what, man.”

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