The noun primetime is defined as the regularly occurring period for which a television or radio audience is expected to be it’s largest, generally regarded in the television industry as the hours between 8 and 11 p.m. When Deion Sanders stepped his foot on the football field he electrified audiences during any hour he was on television playing the game he loved. Deion Sanders, also known as primetime, inducted the big chains, do-rag and the high stepping into the Pro football Hall of Fame.
There are very few athletes who lived up to the hype; primetime did not live up to the hype, he blew up the hype.
Deion joined tight end Shannon Sharpe, Rams and Colts running back Marshall Faulk, Chicago Bears Richard Dent, Washington Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger, the late Les Richter and NFL films founder Ed Sabol in being inducted in the hall. The history of professional football cannot be written without Deion Sanders, arguably the greatest shut down corner who ever played.
(editor’s note: West Lamy’s essay continues after the jump)
Deion created the persona of primetime in 1985 when he turned FSU into a national powerhouse. In his Hall of Fame speech he explained the persona was created in a Florida State University dorm room because he knew NFL cornerbacks didn’t make nearly the money quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers earned. The money was for his mother. The high stepping, the celebrations were for his mom, too. Everything he did was to gain attention and put dollars in his pocket, so he could take care of his mom, which is all he ever wanted to do.
When I played high school football, I did not want to play quarterback like Dan Marino or wide receiver like Jerry Rice. I wanted to play cornerback like Deion Sanders. Primetime, maybe the most imitated football player in the history of the NFL.
“You would have to deal with me on first, second and third down then again on fourth down when returning punts and back on first when on offense” Sanders said. He was inducted in the hall as a corner and return specialist moreover his fulltime profession did not have an off-season. For nine years he juggled careers in the NFL and Major League Baseball.
Sanders is considered one of the most versatile athletes in sporting history because he played two sports at multiple positions. His most successful campaign on the diamond came in 1992 when he led the national league in triples and helped the Atlanta Braves to the post season. Sanders hit a home run and scored a touchdown in the same week. In true primetime fashion he topped that playing in an NFL game and major league playoff game in the same day. However Deion was dedicated to playing football.
He had revolutionary cover skills on the football field. The 1994 NFL season was arguably his finest. After five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Primetime signed on to play one season with the San Francisco 49ers. Recording six interceptions and returning them for an NFL best 303 yards and three touchdowns. “I would play this game for free as long as other players do it for free,” said Deion. He became only the fourth cornerback to receive defensive player of the year honors. In Super Bowl XXIX, Deion recorded an interception in the 49ers 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers in Miami, Fl. He was the first man ever to play in a World Series and Super Bowl.
When you have a title “shut down corner,” covering the best receivers on a weekly basis is just what Deion did. He made a career out of it with his intention and goal to put the corner back position on the map. Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice stated, “ it was like Michael Jordan vs. Magic Johnson, that’s the rivalry we had. You wanted to go out and play your best and I know I had a challenge with Deion Sanders”.
Many of his critics claimed primetime did not tackle as a corner, “since 1989 I have tacked every bill my mother has given me. I have not missed one. Next time they say prime did not tackle say yes he did” Sanders said. He is tackling issues off the field these days coaching and being a mentor to the kids in his youth organization. He wants to open a charter school next year. He capped off the powerful evening in Canton, OH with a moving tribute to his mother and by tying his trademark do-rag around his bust. NFL fans witnessed it all in person and primetime television.