When you ask any football fan to name one of the most exciting, colorful, entertaining and outspoken players ever to play in the NFL, the one name that is sure to come up is that of Deion Sanders.
Neon Deion was, and still is, one of the most brightest and entertaining personalities in the NFL, only these days he does most of his entertaining straight from the broadcast booth.
Deion was destined for stardom from day one. He started out his career in 1988 when he was drafted by New York Yankees. He was then drafted the following year by the Atlanta Falcons with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. He showed up wearing thousands of dollars of diamonds and gold including a flashy silk shirt embroidered with the words “Prime Time.” The name stuck with him.
Sanders had a very successful baseball career and went on to have an even better football career. He became a rare two sport star who made headlines with his play as well as his very controversial comments. He was loved and hated by millions of fans across the country.
For his first five seasons in the NFL, Deion Sanders played for the Atlanta Falcons and was the best cornerback in the league and one of the best return specialists in NFL history. He was as dynamic a player as there ever was in the game. He then signed a one-year deal with San Francisco, and became the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His four tackles and interception helped the 49ers beat San Diego 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX.
Soon after that, in 1995, Sanders signed a huge contract to play with the Dallas Cowboys. He was to get a $13 million dollar signing bonus, but because Jerry Jones was superstitious, he received $12,999,999.99, a penny less. With that contract, Sanders became the highest paid defensive player in the NFL and he earned every single penny of it. He could have signed for more money with the Eagles and the Raiders, but he chose the Cowboys because Jerry Jones promised Sanders that he would be able to play on offense as well as defense, the one thing Sanders wanted more than anything.
“Playing in the NFL is the ultimate high. When I get my hands on that football something crazy comes over me, it electrifies me. When I get on that field, I don’t ever want to come off that turf until the game is over and I scored the winning touchdown. I’m prime time, baby.”
Sanders was an immediate sensation on both sides of the ball. His speed and elusiveness was too much for opposing teams to handle. He was a game-breaker and helped the Cowboys march to another division title. His presence at cornerback helped the Cowboyss win the Super Bowl that season.
In that game, he became the only player in NFL history to catch a pass and make an interception in the Super Bowl.
In 1996, Sanders started all 16 games at cornerback and eight at wide receiver to become the first two-way NFL player in 34 years. But make no mistake, with eight Pro Bowl selections as a cornerback, defense is where Sanders really shined.
During his 14-year NFL career, Deion Sanders was a perennial All-Pro and one of the most feared pass defenders to ever play the game. He is still the only player to have appeared in a Super Bowl and a World Series.
On February 5, 2011, Deion Sanders reached the pinnacle of his football career and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was his first year of eligibility.
The following day, at Super Bowl XLV in Cowboys Stadium, the NFL chose Deion Sanders to perform the pre-game coin toss. Needless to say, as soon as he emerged to perform the honor, the Cowboys Stadium crowd went wild and he nearly brought the house down.
“They almost did it. They almost made old Deion cry.”
He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest athletes in all of sports, and one of the most electrifying players the NFL has ever seen. Sanders certainly lived up to his name – he was and will always be “Prime Time”.