Speaking in a small group to Deion Sanders was an enlightening experience. The flamboyant entertainer is also a reserved and humble individual. He is a man who puts others first. You will hear Deion speak of family, and that certainly includes his immediate family and his mother – but he also has an extended “family”. He traveled to Canton with seven buses that included his TRUTH football family.
His respect for older players is honorable. He mentioned that they made everything possible for his era of players and today’s era. In fact, Deion was overwhelmed at a Hall of Fame luncheon that included some of those players. He said, “You look over your shoulder and you see all these guys who shaped the game, all these guys who made a way for you. The guys who sacrificed for you to do what you do. They made significantly less than what you earned even though they were deserving.” He said he was “touched”. “Touched by stories of those players who only received a small wage for their part.” And he was understanding and compassionate for their trials.
Deion is also fan, like most of us – and he wears it on his sleeve. Fans have an enthusiastic way of sharing football stories and he is no different. That big smile we see from Deion “the entertainer” was quite evident coming from Deion the fan, “you understand I grew up on Bob Greise…Mean Joe and Mike Haynes.” It was easy to see how highly those players are regarded in his eyes and in his smile.
Deion’s enshrinement speech included a thank you to God. He also thanked his spiritual advisers. And as only Deion can do, he then thanked Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube for coming. He spoke of his childhood. And he spoke of responsibility. He spoke of family and he spoke of commitment. The fireworks that typically follow an enshrinement ceremony actually began when his name was announced. So to speak. He was the last enshrinee Saturday night and the crowd on hand came alive, hanging on his every word.
Because in the spotlight he IS “the entertainer”. But when the lights are turned off, he is a man who could not even focus on his enshrinement or the significance of this weekend until Friday. That is because through Thursday, his focus was on the young members of his football “family”.
After Saturday’s ceremony, when the stadium crowd had gone, you could see Deion in the NFL Network broadcast area. The honor of what took place that evening had finally set in. And so did the emotions for a person who had reached such a pinnacle in their field. When he was finished with the broadcast he came out and hugged his extended family. They were all so proud.
Each of his five children wore their dad’s colors that night. The colors he wore so proudly over his 14 year career with 5 different teams. He never mentioned which of the colors he looked best in. Or which one was his favorite. Personally I believe his new favorite color is Light Hagger Gold. Deion said on Sunday, he wants to wear his gold jacket whenever possible. He wasn’t going to take it off. He said he was even going to wear it on the NFL Network until they make him stop.
He is proud of his accomplishments as a player and of the abilities he once had. Deion now looks to future possibilities to touch other people – especially the children in his life. He enjoys numerous friendships with ex-teammates and with ex-opponents. And he even established a new friend in fellow 2011 enshrinee Chris Hanburger.
Deion truly believes in himself and he believes in his relationships with others. He is extremely proud of his actions as a person. That is simply due to the fact that with Deion…there IS so much more.
We welcome Blaine to the LLS team and thank him for covering the HOF Ceremony for us.