Deion Sanders aka Coach Prime, earned University of Colorado spot


When Tom Cruise starred in the blockbuster film “Jerry Maguire,” America fell in love with a sports agent whose mission turned from money to morals. The movie encouraged people to reevaluate their life goals and made “show me the money” a national catchphrase.

Deion Sanders is the closest embodiment of Cruise’s character in the real-life sports world. The NFL Hall-of-Famer left his primary media gig for the uncertain pastures of leading a defunct HBCU football program. Like Jerry Maguire, Sanders envisioned a new path toward building something “real and fun and inspiring” in the “godforsaken” business of college football. When Sanders – affectionately known as “Coach Prime” – stood up and asked “who’s coming with me,” Jackson State University and its larger community enthusiastically adopted his optimism.

The timing of Coach Prime’s and JSU’s partnership cannot be overlooked. When Sanders inked his four-year, $1.2 million contract in September 2020, America stood in a rare moment of self-reflection. The knee on George Floyd’s neck had produced a scream of ongoing racism to white America and a painful reminder of the necessity of self-help to African Americans. Floyd’s murder forced the nation to acknowledge Black humanity to a degree unparalleled since the Los Angeles Police Department’s beating of Rodney King.

Hollywood’s best could not have written a more powerful script. Deion Sanders’ real-life story as a kid who used his athletic talent to elevate himself out of poverty is Netflix gold. From college to the pros and beyond, he articulated his mission and followed through with the necessary diligence. Further, he applied the business and marketing acumen he acquired off the field to craft a persona and brand that continue to electrify millions beyond the sports community. Coach Prime is the American success story.

Dorothy, the administrative assistant brilliantly portrayed by Renée Zellweger, who joined Jerry Maguire in quitting his job to pursue an opportunity with greater purpose, best summarized so many people’s attitude about the work Deion Sanders embarked upon as head football coach at JSU: “It was the me I’d always wanted to be.”

The Jackson State University football team is undefeated this season, and 27-5 under three seasons of Coach Prime’s leadership. With a victory in the upcoming Celebration Bowl, the team can complete its first-ever undefeated season and earn distinction as the national HBCU champion for the first time in over two decades.

Coach Prime invited all to believe, and those who invested in him have already earned a return. The University of Colorado is the latest to trust his vision, and his force field is certain to expand with the heightened resources and exposure.

Critics of Deion Sanders, such as sports analyst Bomani Jones, who equated Coach Prime’s meteoric rise to the slick efforts of the “Monorail salesman” character on The Simpsons, have positioned themselves on the wrong side of his story. They view his five-year, $29.5 million deal with the University of Colorado as evidence that he never held a genuine mission to level the playing field for HBCUs.


Source link