NFL Hall of Fame football player Deion Sanders has left the HBCU Jackson State for a mostly white school in Colorado. Sanders will continue on as a head coach at Colorado just the same as JSU… but with a much bigger paycheck. He has reportedly signed an offer sheet of nearly $30 million, which is much more than JSU could ever match. If this move is viewed from the eyes of pure capitalism and upward mobility, it should be seen as a good thing. However, many in the black community view Deion Sanders as a hypocrite and traitor for this move after just two years of commitment to JSU.
The initial hiring of Deion Sanders to Jackson State was seen as monumental for the program. Sanders appeared on several television shows and podcasts to highlight the importance of black colleges. Fellow NFL Hall-Of-Famer Michael Strahan praised Sanders for reaching “back” to the HBCU to help it improve. Strahan even donated clothing to the football team’s players. Many other celebrity friends of Sanders did the same thing. The rally and push behind “Coach Prime” was seen as a social movement that needed to happen for the upliftment of black people. In just two years, all of that pro-black talk appears to be thrown out of the window.
Those who are upset at Sanders should not forget the monumental effort that he put into JSU for the two years he was there. He donated $150,000 of his own salary to finish a facility at the school. He leveraged personal and business relationships to improve quality of life issues for the team – such as flights with American Airlines. Sanders was able to attract top recruits that may not have looked at the SWAC conference if not for him. Deion Sanders put a lot of work in at JSU and should be thanked for that.
However, in the end, Deion Sanders behaved how any other college head football coach normally would. They may make promises to the parents of kids who they recruit, but ultimately those promises are only possible to keep while the head coach is still employed by the team. And if that changes, which it is bound to, then the circumstances of that recruit may change. The Deion Sanders “drama” simply demonstrates that when upward mobility and money are involved, all of the emotionalism and entitlements to loyalty go out of the window.
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