“Neon Deion,” “Prime Time,” and now, “Coach Prime.” Regardless of what nickname you have known Deion Sanders by, it is hard to ignore how much this football legend is inspiring the sports world right now.
The head coach of the University of Colorado Buffalos has not only taken the college football world by storm, but he also seems to be everywhere in American culture. Sure, there are the creative Aflac and California Almonds commercials, but what Sanders is doing within his team’s locker room is the real story. Before we dive into Sanders’ impact, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of Sanders before he was “Coach Prime.”
From #2 to #21
Born in Fort Myers, Florida, in 1967, Sanders was a star defensive back for Florida State University from 1985 to 1988, where he arguably made the #2 jersey cool in football. He was also an outstanding baseball player, drafted by the Kansas City Royals and, later, the New York Yankees. Along with Bo Jackson, Sanders became one of the only two-sport professional athletes playing Major League Baseball and the NFL. He was the fifth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1989 NFL draft. He would sport #21 for the Falcons.
From 1989 to 2005, Sanders dazzled the professional sports world with his abilities and charisma. He was ubiquitous, insisting he was the definition of his designed nickname, “Prime Time.” And he was correct. Sanders became a two-time Super Bowl champion (with the 49ers and the Cowboys). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. As for baseball, Sanders had a career batting average of .263, playing for five franchises from 1989-2001.
If accomplishing these things while playing two professional sports was not enough, Sanders also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated five times, held numerous endorsements (Nike, Pizza Hut), and was the only non-QB to host Saturday Night Live prior to 2019.
Post Playing Days
Sanders joined the NFL Network as an analyst while simultaneously dipping into the world of coaching. From 2012 – 2017, Sanders coached in Texas High School programs, where he had the opportunity to join his sons. Ultimately, this led to Jackson State hiring Sanders in 2020. Over three seasons there, Sanders led the team to a 27-6 record. Moreover, he began to establish a reputation for his positive impact on his players. Star recruits opted to join Sanders’ lesser-known program. For example, Travis Hunter chose Jackson State because of Coach Sanders instead of going to a bigger-name school.
In December of 2022, Sanders was hired by the University of Colorado. This is where the modern-day “Coach Prime” really begins. With the Buffalos sitting at 3-0 heading into their biggest game of the year in Oregon, let’s dive deeper into four ways Deion Sanders is inspiring everyone.