Deion Sanders isn't in the NFL anymore. He's not even at Florida State anymore. He's in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, where he's discoverin
Deion Sanders isn’t in the NFL anymore. He’s not even at Florida State anymore. He’s in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, where he’s discovering that all football programs are not created equal.
Sanders addressed the media at SWAC Media Days Wednesday for the first time as Jackson State’s football coach. The NFL and college football Hall of Famer was asked about his first impressions about coaching in the SWAC at a historically black university, and Sanders said the big adjustment is realizing that Jackson State doesn’t have the same resources as the major power players in college football.
“The playing field is horrible,” Sanders said. “It’s not a level playing field. It’s unacceptable. Thank God that God called me to change the game, to open their eyes, to open the door. Not just for Jackson State, but for everybody.”
Forget billionaire boosters and 100,000-seat stadiums for the moment. Sanders says the real disadvantage for smaller schools comes in the details. Rickety training tables. Uneven practice fields. Outdated helmets, pads and practice equipment.
Resources aren’t equal. And to Sanders, that’s holding schools like Jackson State back from matriculating players into the NFL.
“Some of the things that I’ve seen thus far early in my tenure are truly unacceptable,” Sanders said. “It causes a kid not to dream. It causes a kid to not have that passion because he don’t see no end result that’s promising for him.”
Sanders said he has had to take a proactive approach to combat this inequity. Jackson State has been the recipient of some big-money donations since his hire. But Sanders has also helped coordinate the apparel deal with Under Armour. He has had meetings with Golden Corral about giving him a place to bring his players when they want to eat off campus.
He says he’s doing what he’s doing for the sake of his players. Sanders says he isn’t coaching for himself. If the goal really is to help his players get to the NFL and achieve the same dream he achieved more than 30 years ago, he has to start by giving them every advantage a player in the Southeastern Conference or Atlantic Coast Conference would have.
“I’m doing this for these babies, man,” Sanders said. “They deserve it. The look in their eyes when they get a whole new sweatsuit just to wear back to the durn dorm. Shoes and looking the same when they get the helmets and the uniforms and all that stuff plays a tremendous role.
“You know my quote. If you look good, you feel good. That’s the durn truth.”