Deion Sanders: Best Corner Ever? What About Best Player Ever?

Max MannCorrespondent IApril 16, 2008

Nobody ever held it down like Prime Time. Not now, not ever.

Sorry Chad, but "Ocho Cinco" doesn't stick like Prime Time.

Terence Newman can wear the same grill on his helmet, the same towel hanging from his belt, the same white long sleeve underneath his jersey, and the same baggy pure white socks, but 41 will never be 21.

Charles Woodson rocked the triple-threat gig in college, all the way to the Heisman, but could never take the gig on in the pros.

Champ Bailey wanted to play Kobe to Deion's MJ, but you can't be the heir apparent when rookies are burning you on Monday nights.

I'm not here to debate Deion as the best corner ever.  

The GOAT himself, Jerry Rice, said on NFL Network's "In Their Own Words," that he used to lose sleep when he knew a matchup with Deion Sanders awaited him when he woke.  

I've seen games when teams closed one eye to Sanders' side of the field, because they thought that Prime Time's odds of catching the pass was better than the receivers’. 

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Greatest corner ever doesn't need to be debated.

My question is why don't we bring Deion up when we're telling our friends that Montana was the best player ever?

When your Dad won't let you rest until you've admitted for the 10th time that Jim Brown was the greatest player, have you ever brought up Sanders?

It's time to give Deion some consideration in this argument, and here are five reasons to stop ignoring Prime Time (As if you ever could anyway).

5. Legacy:  WRs don't score thinking, "Man when I get my tub today I'm a do it just like Jerry."

QBs don't get ready for the game thinking, "I'm going to wear my wristbands and socks like Joe Cool." Yeah every player wants to play like Joe and Jerry, but every corner wants to be as good as Deion too.

The difference is you can watch any game in the league, and chances are you'll see the high step, the ball raised in the air, and Sanders' signature shuffle.

You'll see wave caps, and du-rags under helmets. Players with the "high white" socks on, and rocking towels hanging from their belts. Name another player that has not only affected the value of a position, but the style and flash of football more than Sanders. 

4. He's the Benchmark: With the upcoming draft, how many times have you heard Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, or Mike Mayock say "He's not the next Deion Sanders, but he's definitely an elite prospect?"

Who do today's scouts compare the Charles Woodsons, the Champ Baileys, and the Antonio Cromarties to? Deion.

Coaches, GMs, and Scouts are all looking for the next Deion because when we talk about corners, we're not talking about Rod Woodson or Mike Haynes, we want Deion.

When you debate QBs, you can make a case for Brady, Elway, or Montana. When you talk RBs you can argue Brown, Sanders, or Payton.

Name another player, at another position, where the general consensus is one guy?

3. Double duties: What's incredible is for most of this man's career he played baseball as a summer job.

The man never even went to most of his training camps, his OTAs, or played in pre-season games. Yes, the man was a Hall of Famer and the best player at his position, and he didn't even play football full time.

Think Jerry Rice is as good of a receiver if he goes and tries a gig at basketball until Week 2 of the season? 

2. Versatility: Sanders is the only player in NFL history to have crossed the pylon in every single way possible.

He's returned punts and kicks for TDs (Besides Devin Hester, he might have been the best at that too). He's notched receiving tubs, and rushed for touchdowns.

Of course, Prime returned a couple of picks to the house for six, and took fumble recoveries to the end zone as well.

All coupled with the fact that in the modern era he's the only player to have started on both sides of the ball.

Hey, Jerry could you shut down their best receiver for us today. Oh, and while you're at it, we need you to start on offense too. Somehow I don't see Walsh asking Jerry to do this.

1. His peers: The next time we see Madden and Michaels plugging the "Manning vs. Brady" matchup, can we take into consideration that these two greats aren't actually playing across from one another.

Deion Sanders made his rep by locking up Rice twice a year for five seasons in the ATL. He was signed to a one-year deal by SF to cover Michael Irvin.

Sanders is the greatest because he played against the greatest. If Rice can be considered the greatest player of all time by some, what does that make the man who could take him out of a game?

During Deion's day, the roll call of receivers also in their primes were guys like Rice, Irvin, Tim Brown, and Cris Carter. These might be the best receivers ever, and at one time they were all being shut down by Deion. 

I'm not saying Deion is the definitive best player ever. It's too hard to bridge the gap across the positions and eras.

I'm just saying the next time you, your uncle, your cousin, or your best friend start talking about best football player ever, do me a favor and throw in Prime Time.

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