Both sports and financial analysts agree that newly minted University of Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders may have already earned his 5-year, nearly $30 million salary before his Buffaloes have even taken the field.
Despite the teams 1-11 campaign last year, university officials have sold out season tickets and hosted a standing-room-only crowd for the Black and Gold Day Spring Game this past April – in the snow. Social media hits surrounding “Prime Time,” as he’s affectionately called, are exploding.
What’s the draw?
Coach Sanders is bold and opinionated, and seemingly unafraid to share his perspective – especially when it comes to his Christian faith. A recent exchange on Twitter may well encapsulate his appeal.
“Excited to have you at CU, but please slow your roll with the religious stuff,” wrote a follower of Sanders. “This is a public institution, with many different beliefs. Or no beliefs at all. Respect everyone’s freedom to believe whatever they want. Especially if it’s different than your beliefs.”
How did Coach Prime respond?
“I’m gonna Praise God even more now!” he tweeted back. “Thank you for the encouragement.”
Of course, the premise and core of the critic’s comments are faulty, and sadly represent what far too many believe. Just because you’re vocal about your strong Christian convictions doesn’t mean you disrespect anyone who may not feel likewise. Pluralism doesn’t and shouldn’t demand silence, even though some suggest otherwise.
The comedian Adam Carolla, who is no social conservative, summed up the modern-day bullying tactics of the radicals in rather candid terms when he observed, “We live in a time where intelligent people are being silenced so that stupid people won’t be offended.”
After he was hired to coach in Boulder, Deion Sanders gave the Lord the credit.
“Out of all the persons in the world, God chose me,” Sanders said. “For that, I thank Him; for that, I love Him; for that, I magnify Him; for that, I glorify Him; for that, I praise Him; for that, I owe Him. Each and every day, I’m trying to please Him.”
One gets the impression that Coach Sanders will continue to interpret and react to what happens to him and his team through the lens of his Christian faith. He will not be intimidated.
For example, the coach recently tweeted:
“We all chase things that if we applied the unique skill set that we have it would chase us. We all want to be wanted, needed and respected. The gifts that God freely placed inside of us commands those desires if we only activate those gifts. What are u waiting on?”
Deion Sanders is putting on something of a clinic regarding how to navigate an increasingly hostile culture. Pray. And then just say it. Christians should already be familiar with the need to live boldly for Christ, especially since the Bible is full of examples.
Writing in Acts, Luke tells the story of Peter and John being hauled before Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander for preaching and teaching about Jesus’ Resurrection.
“By what power or by what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7) they asked them.
We read that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and responded:
Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).
The leaders were flabbergasted by their boldness and let them go – and then John and Peter joined the other disciples and prayed for additional courage.
Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:29-30).
Many of us are rooting that Deion Sanders will continue to speak up and speak out and confound his critics.
Photo from University of Colorado.