At 55 years of age, NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is now in his third season as head football coach at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Undefeated after seven games this season, the Tigers won the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2021.
With the nicknames of “Prime Time” and “Neon Deion” during his playing days, which in addition to 14 seasons in the NFL also included 9 in Major League Baseball, the Florida native wasn’t known for holding back his opinions or shying away from the spotlight.
Negotiating and preparing to sign his first contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 1989, Sanders told the press, “It’s gonna be a lot of zeroes in that contract. You gonna think it’s alphabet soup or something, all those zeroes in there.”
Both the years and position may have tempered the brashness of the multi-sport star, but he’s still characteristically blunt when it comes to sharing his perspective. A video of Sanders addressing his team was posted on YouTube earlier this month, and the spirited message has gone viral, generating over 600,000 views in less than two weeks.
“Discipline provokes opportunity,” he tells his team. “If you’re not disciplined, you’re not going to get opportunities …”
Sanders goes onto lament the fact that the current generation is too “soft” and coddled” and unable to receive, absorb and act on honest feedback.
“In this day and age, you can’t say certain things to certain people, to certain ethnicities,” he tells his team. If you do, you’ll be “scolded,” “blackballed,” and “written off.”
The Jackson State coach then lauded the benefits of honest feedback, noting that players who don’t have NFL abilities should be told and prepared to be ready for a career off the field.
Concluding, Coach Sanders acknowledged that some of the players were fathers, and alluding to the fact many of them came from broken, single-parent families.
“Some of you are perpetuating the same thing you were raised by,” Sanders said. “You’re supposed to make changes in your family. You’re supposed to be the change – the conduit of change for your family, for your generation. Are you doing it? Some of you got kids – and you’re kids … And that scares the heck out of me.”
A Christian saved during his baseball days, Deion Sanders spoke with CBN earlier this month, describing a health scare last year, during which he spent weeks in the hospital for blood clots.
“It was a blessing because I could have lost my life very easily … It was there. It was a thought process of losing my leg from the knee down,” Sanders recalled. “It was almost there. So when I look up and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ it’s because I know the quiet cries at night that were in that hospital. I got to really see God’s face.”
Coach Sanders’ entire speech to his team is just over five minutes and worth the listen.
Photo from Shutterstock.