Deion Sanders may be the greatest cornerback to ever grace a football field. Not only did he epitomize the shutdown corner, the very term was invented to describe him.
That said, Deion is also among the biggest self-promoters to ever play a team sport. He dubbed himself "Prime Time," danced to the beat of his own drummer and allegedly sewed seeds of discord in locker rooms where he played.
In his book, Boys Will Be Boys, Jeff Pearlman quotes former Cowboy Kevin Smith: "There was a division between Deion and Troy (Aikman) that began to bubble over. We called it 'Double Doors' at Valley Ranch. Once we walked through those double doors it was football. We could laugh and joke, but it was all about football. To Aikman, that was sacred."
"When Deion came in," Smith continued, "Something changed for the worst. Guys who should have been studying football on a Wednesday...were focused on other things. "
Pearlman also quoted '90s Cowboys offensive lineman Dale Hellestrae: "You led by example, and Deion's example wasn't very good."
Pearlman further alleges Deion stirred the poison pot of racial strife on the team. He was just a bad dude, a bad teammate, a bad example, a bad egg, who happened to be a real good football player.
Enter Dez Bryant.
Deion Sanders cost Bryant his senior year of football at Oklahoma State. He knew the rules, or should have. Yet, this man who fancies himself a Pied Piper of the flamboyant, extravagantly-talented, black athlete allegedly consorted with a college kid on behalf of agent Eugene Parker.
Sanders would later claim to the NFL Network, for whom he works as an analyst (I use the term lightly), "I don’t have time to benefit from [recruiting players]. I don’t prostitute kids. I love them. I try to nurture them, I try to call them, challenge them, change them and take them to another level and inspire them — that’s what I do."
Santa Sanders? St. Deion? Deion the Benevolent?
If you are buying that stuff, I am sure Deion might have a bridge somewhere he would like to sell you.
And now comes this interview with KESN — ESPN Radio 103.3 Dallas. I found this question—and St. Deion's answer to it—particularly interesting:
KESN: Was the emotion Dez Bryant was showing more T.O.-emotion or more playmaker emotion? To you, what's the difference between the two and which was Dez showing?
Neon Deion: Well, honestly, Mike [Michael Irvin] was 10-times worse than T.O. I mean, I love Mike and Mike was one of the fiercest competitors I've ever played against but Mike wanted the ball early, often, early and often; Mike walked off the field in practice when he didn't get the darn ball thrown his way. So you guys go crazy over T.O...
It's just competitive emotion, but what Dez needs to learn is you only see Dez running one or two routes. He either runs a go or a quick screen and that's it. What's the problem? Does he not know the other routes? Do they not know how to get him the ball in other ways? How many other ball routes have we seen him catch? So, somebody needs to tell me the problem. Does he not know the offense or do we not know how to get him the ball down the field other than a go?
The trashing of his pal Michael Irvin in order to paint the notoriously selfish Terrell Owens in a better light is disgusting. You could find former T.O. coaches and teammates from coast to coast that would tell you Terrell Owens is a selfish player.
T.O. wanted the ball and the notoriety that goes with getting the ball more than he wanted to win. He trashed almost every quarterback he ever played with. He led a revolt against offensive coordinator Jason Garrett in Dallas. He leveled accusations against teammates.
Michael Irvin wanted the ball, too. He was animated and insistent. But ask any teammate what kind of teammate Mike was. I guarantee you he will get high marks. That is more than can ever be said about Owens or Deion "Prime Time" Sanders.
I also note in Deion's answer to the KESN question that he once again takes a shot at "the establishment." Sanders has always been about the individual over the team. Maybe he hasn't watched any Cowboys games, or maybe he is dishonest, or he could just be stupid, but the accusation that Bryant has only gotten the ball on "go routes" or "quick screens" just isn't so.
Sure, those have been the most successful ways the Cowboys have gotten the ball to Dez. So what?
Deion said, "Somebody needs to tell me the problem."
OK, Deion. I guess I will have to be the one to do that.
Here's the problem: You and people like you. Prima Donnas who always think they are bigger than the team is the problem. Networks putting microphones in front of phonies and morons is the problem. Selfish jerks being hailed as heroes is the problem. The notion that exceptional talent trumps impeccable character is the problem. Your annoyingly over-the-top and oh-so-fake sincerity when you get that whisper voice thing going is the problem. The fact that you no longer do the only thing you ever did that was worth watching, yet you still have a platform is the problem.
The solution? Simple.
Shut up, Deion.