The 1989 NFL Draft is considered one of the best drafts in league history.
No less than five of the first 20 picks were eventually voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In fact, four of those Hall of Fame players were selected within the first five picks.
Michigan State tackle Tony Mandarich (taken number two overall) became notorious in his own right as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
I know the 2020 NFL Draft hasn’t happened yet, but I’m confident saying:
1989 NFL Draft > 2020 NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/umYw6w1w2N
— 80s Sports N Stuff (@80sSportsNStuff) April 17, 2020
With the fifth pick of the draft that year, the Atlanta Falcons selected Florida State defensive back Deion Sanders.
Sanders went on to play in three different decades and took home two Super Bowl trophies.
His play on the field electrified crowds and the fans watching at home.
Although he primarily played defense, Sanders was a threat to score anytime he got his hands on the ball.
Even more impressive, Sanders was a solid baseball player who played in the MLB at the same time he was playing in the NFL.
His feats as a multi-sport athlete are legendary.
For example, Sanders is the only person in history to play in both a Super Bowl and the World Series.
Not only was Sanders sensational on the field, he was (and still is) equally as entertaining away from the gridiron.
As much a showman as an athlete, Sanders sought attention everywhere he went.
The glitz and the glamor of being a professional athlete were exactly what Sanders hoped for.
The fame and fortune weren’t bad either.
In theory, Sanders had everything he wanted.
However, by the middle of his career, Sanders was hiding a dark secret.
That secret nearly cost him his life.
This is the incredible story of the life and career of Deion Sanders.
Growing up in Fort Myers
You may know him by many nicknames: Neon Deion, Prime Time, or just Prime.
Deion Luwynn Sanders was born on August 9, 1967 in Fort Myers, Florida.
His future was laid out before him by the time he was eight.
That was the year that Sanders began playing organized baseball and football.
By the time he arrived at North Fort Myers High School, Sanders was someone to keep an eye on.
He more than proved the hype during his high school years.
As a football, baseball, and basketball standout, Sanders was named All-State for each sport.
His reputation grew even more when, after scoring 30 points in a basketball game, a friend gave him the moniker “Prime Time.”
In 1985, Sanders was named to the Florida High School Association All-Century team.
He was also selected in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Kansas City Royals.
However, Sanders decided not to sign with the Royals (passing on a $50,000 offer) and instead chose to head to college.
Staying close to home, Sanders took his talents north to Tallahassee.
Florida State welcomed him with open arms and Sanders returned the love.
While attending FSU, Sanders again played multiple sports.
He continued playing football and baseball but dropped basketball to run track.
Starting as a freshman, Sanders played cornerback for coach Bobby Bowden’s football team and outfield for the baseball team.
The ‘Noles baseball team finished fifth in the nation in 1985 and Sanders contributed to the track team winning a conference championship that year.
Bowden’s ball club posted a 9-3 record in ‘85 with Sanders playing on defense and special teams.
In 1986, Sanders hit .331 in baseball and was named a Third-team All-American and an All-South Independent First-team in football.
The following year, he stole 27 bases and FSU reached the College World Series while also being named to the Metro Conference All-Tournament team.
Florida State’s Deion Sanders slides into second base during a 1986 game. Also, the Beach Boys are coming June 13! pic.twitter.com/8cE7fi6u
— SI Vault (@si_vault) January 9, 2012
The football team went 11-1 in ‘87, losing a tough game against rival Miami by one point.
Sanders was voted as a First-team All-American after the season.
Earlier that year, Sanders found himself competing in the conference championships in both track and baseball in Columbia, South Carolina.
In an amazing showcase of athleticism, Sanders played in the semi-final baseball game against Southern Mississippi.
Then, he hustled over to the track complex and ran a leg of the 4×100 relay.
After the race, Sanders went back to the diamond and played in the championship game against Cincinnati.
Both teams were crowned as conference champions.
In 1988, FSU again went 11-1 and again lost to Miami.
Before a game against the Florida Gators, Sanders pulled up to the stadium in a white limousine and stepped out wearing a tuxedo.
“Prime Time” had arrived.
“How do you think defensive backs get attention?” Sanders said at the time. “They don’t pay nobody to be humble.”
During the 1988 season, Sanders created a stir when he did not attend any of his classes or take any of his final exams.
However, in the January 1989 Sugar Bowl, he made an interception with five seconds left to cement a 13-7 win over Auburn.
Understandably, this caused enough of a controversy that the Florida State Legislature created the “Deion Sanders Rule” which forbids any football player at any state college from playing in a bowl game if he did not complete his previous semester.
Sanders still put on a display that year on his way to becoming a two-time First-team All-American.
He was awarded the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in the nation.
He was also the nation’s top punt returner in ‘88.
Sanders continued to dominate in track as well, becoming a conference champ in the 100 and 200 meters as well as the 4×100 meter relay.
As a Seminole cornerback, punt, and kick returner, Sanders’ college career accounted for 14 picks including three for touchdowns (one score was a 100 yard return off an INT) and three punt returns for touchdowns.
Deion Sanders is among five former Florida State Seminoles to make ESPN’s list of the top 150 college football players (26-150) of all time.https://t.co/br240m2JTl pic.twitter.com/FnyYKzJWBv
— 247Sports (@247Sports) January 10, 2020
Less than a decade later, his number 2 was retired from the FSU football program.
Looking back at Sanders’ time in Tallahassee, Bowden remarked that Sanders was his “measuring stick for athletic ability.”
Sanders Becomes a Pro in Two Sports
While still at FSU, Sanders was again drafted by an MLB team.
In the 30th round of the 1988 MLB Draft, Sanders was selected by the New York Yankees.
He then spent the summer of 1989 with the Albany-Colonie Yankees in Double A ball.
Sanders also spent the spring of ‘89 preparing for the NFL Draft.
During the scouting combine in February, Sanders torched his 40 yard dash with a time of 4.27.
His speed, along with his coverage skills, made him a hot commodity among NFL teams.
Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long to find out his new destination.
With the 5th pick of that year’s draft, Atlanta selected Sanders.
He was now a pro in two sports.
1989 & 1990
Sanders wasted no time proving why he belonged in both sports.
While holding out of his first training camp, Sanders continued to play baseball while his agent worked on a deal with Atlanta.
On September 5, 1989, the Yankees were in Seattle and facing a young pitcher named Randy Johnson.
Sanders promptly went 3 for 5 against Johnson including his second home run of the year.
Two days later, he finally agreed to a hefty rookie contract (four years, $4.4 million) with the Falcons and reported to the team.
Although he did not participate in training camp in ‘89, Sanders quickly dispelled any perception that he wasn’t ready for the NFL.
Playing against the LA Rams only days after his home run in Seattle, Sanders took his first NFL punt return 68 yards for a touchdown.
In doing so, he became the first person to score a touchdown and hit a home run at the top level in both leagues in the same week.
Sanders put fear into the hearts of quarterbacks in ‘89 when he intercepted five passes.
In 1990, he collected three more picks to go along with another punt return touchdown.
That same year, the Yankees officially added him to their opening day roster.
On May, 22, 1990, Sanders became embroiled in a disagreement with Chicago White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.
As he was stepping up to the plate to hit, Sanders drew a dollar sign in the dirt.
When he hit a pop up to the shortstop, Sanders jogged to his dug out instead of running to first base.
As Yankees fans booed their young star, Fisk let Sanders have it, telling Sanders to “run the f**king ball out” and also calling him a “piece of s**t.”
Carlton Fisk with Deion Sanders at bat. Comiskey Park 1990 (Photo Rich Wagner) pic.twitter.com/y6x0qpfcd0
— Rich Wagner (@rwagnerful) July 8, 2014
Later in the game, Sanders retaliated by telling Fisk, “The days of slavery are over.”
That incensed Fisk even more as he explained to the media after the game.
“He comes up and wants to make it a racial issue, there’s no racial issue involved. There is a right way and a wrong way to play this game.”
During the 1990 season, Sanders faced fellow multi-sport pro Bo Jackson five times.
On July 17, 1990, in what was billed “The Bo and Prime Time Show,” Jackson hit three home runs.
After the game, Sanders gave Jackson the ultimate compliment.
“He’s (Bo’s) one of the best athletes who ever put on a uniform.”
30 years ago – Bo Jackson hits 3 homeruns and Deion Sanders hustles for an inside the park HR (@Yankees vs the @Royals). #TodayInSports #MLB #MLBPA
— #TodayInSports (@TodayInSports3) September 21, 2020
It was around this time that Sanders vacillated between staying with the Yankees through the fall or reporting to the Falcons.
Forcing his hand with George Steinbrenner, (then the Yankees owner), Sanders asked for a $1 million salary the following season.
Steinbrenner and the team ended negotiations with Sanders over the request.
In September of 1990, the Yankees put Sanders on waivers, stating that his football career was hurting his baseball career.
In two seasons with New York, Sanders had a .171 batting average.
For his part, Sanders owned up to his lack of flash in baseball.
“You can’t jump around and get excited and go crazy in baseball,” he said. “Nobody ever masters that game.”
That season, Sanders reported to the Falcons and played in all 16 games.
He collected three picks and returned two of them for touchdowns.
He also added another score on a punt return.
“Too Legit” 1991 Season
In 1991, Sanders received an early Christmas gift.
No longer a Yankee, the Atlanta Braves signed him before the season.
This was perfect for Sanders as he now played professional baseball and football in the same city.
However, he continued to struggle at the plate that season, hitting only .191 in 54 games.
He did contribute to the team on July 31.
Playing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he hit a three run homer to ignite a comeback win.
The following day, he was contractually obligated to return to the Falcons.
Although he was miffed at not being able to continue the baseball season, Sanders didn’t stay upset for long.
That season, the Falcons seemed to catch lightning in a bottle.
Led by maverick coach Jerry Glanville, Atlanta surprised almost everyone by finishing 10-6.
That record included a season sweep of mighty San Francisco.
The ‘91 Falcons were a mix of flamboyance and brawn.
The team had Sanders, high-stepping his way to six interceptions and a score, and it also had Andre “Bad Moon” Rison playing receiver.
Defensive back Brian Jordan not only played alongside Sanders in the secondary, he was also a baseball player who would eventually play in the MLB for two decades.
Rounding out the team were such notables as defensive backs Tim McKyer and Scott Case, quarterback Chris Miller, and a little known second round pick that year named Brett Favre.
As the team continued to pull out improbable victory after victory, the hype was in full motion.
Rap star MC Hammer would frequent the Falcons sideline and his hit song “Too Legit to Quit” highlighted the team’s success.
I’m all for #TouchdownRings & #Bling…in the 1991 @AtlantaFalcons and @MCHammer #TooLegitToQuit music video. @DeionSanders @AndreRisonPro pic.twitter.com/9nZEMZDVrC
— Mr. Miyagi Matters (@WarVanEagle) August 25, 2019
The insanity only grew when Atlanta beat their first round playoff opponent, New Orleans, 27-20.
Unfortunately, their season ended the following week in Washington as the imposing Redskins flayed Atlanta 24-7.
After the season, Sanders was voted to the first of many Pro Bowls.
Although he had three picks for the Falcons in 1992 and led the league in kickoff return yards, yards per return, and touchdown returns (with two), Atlanta came crashing down to earth at 6-10.
However, this time it was the Braves turn to make Atlanta proud.
Before the season began, Sanders restructured his contract so he could return to the Braves if they made the postseason.
“The only way I have a chance to be successful in baseball is to give it a shot for a full season,” he said just before the 1992 season.
Sanders had his best year in ‘92 as a baseball player.
He batted .304, stole 26 bases, and led the National League with 14 triples through 97 games.
The Braves made it to the postseason and, as promised, Sanders rejoined the team.
However, the Falcons were miffed that he was not committing full-time to the team and fined him a total of $68,000 for playing with the Braves.
Sanders tried to make the best of both worlds.
On October 11, he played in a game against the Dolphins in Miami then flew to Pittsburgh to join the Braves against the Pirates.
it’s the 25th anniversary of @DeionSanders playing two pro sports in one day. https://t.co/3FNuCmJqjc
more important tho: THE PHOTOS pic.twitter.com/SRou4YnfDJ
— maurice (@tallmaurice) October 11, 2017
He was denied the chance to be the first player to play in two pro sports on the same day when manager Bobby Cox chose not to play Sanders during the Pirates game.
Although he attempted to help both his teams that day, Sanders received negative criticism from various media personalities.
Broadcaster Tim McCarver was one of those media members who bashed Sanders’ unwillingness to stick to one sport.
A few days later, the Braves clinched a berth in the World Series by beating Pittsburgh four games to three.
Sanders sought out McCarver in the locker room after the final game of the series and proceeded to douse him with water.
Now soaked, McCarver turned to Sanders while still broadcasting live and said, “You’re a real man, Deion.”
Deion Sanders and Tim McCarver pic.twitter.com/RDgJwBeWYF
— Stephen G. Ghutzman (@CoolHandGhutz) May 28, 2019
During the World Series, Sanders put on a hitting display, batting .533 with four runs, eight hits, two doubles, and a run batted in.
Even more impressive, he played well despite having a broken bone in his foot.
Unfortunately, the Braves couldn’t overcome a mighty Toronto Blue Jays team and lost in six games.
By 1993, many people wondered why Sanders didn’t just stick to one sport.
As 1992 showed, he was clearly good enough to play pro baseball.
However, whenever questioned about this, Sanders would always quip, “Football is my wife and baseball is my mistress.”
He continued to play both sports in ‘93.
In August of that year, Sanders went on the disabled list with a respiratory infection while playing for the Braves, which ended his baseball season.
Although he only played in 11 games as a Falcon, Sanders had his best year as a pro in terms of interceptions when he hauled in a league leading seven for the year.
He was voted to his third straight Pro Bowl after the season.
That off-season, Sanders thought hard about his legacy with the Falcons.
Coming off of two straight 6-10 seasons under Glanville, he did not see the team returning to the postseason any time soon.
Although then Falcons owner Rankin Smith vowed that he would match any offer to re-sign him, Sanders decided to wait.
First, he wanted to see what type of offers were available to him heading into the 1994 season.
Although he teased an Atlanta return, it was very obvious what Prime Time wanted.
Sanders is a 49er
Sanders began the 1994 MLB season with the Braves but was traded to the Cincinnati Reds.
He was hitting .283 with 38 steals when the MLB Players Union voted to strike.
The strike cleared the way for Sanders to resume making his decision on where his next football home would be.
As the ‘94 NFL season was about to get underway, Sanders had narrowed his landing spot to New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, and Atlanta.
However, the Falcons were never really a consideration and the Saints weren’t any closer to contention.
Miami eventually passed as they restructured quarterback Dan Marino’s contract.
Although they only offered him a one-year, $1.2 million contract, Sanders signed with the Niners.
San Francisco was desperately trying to return to the Super Bowl.
At the time, their last appearance was after the 1989 season when they won their fourth championship.
In 1992 and ‘93, they were taken down by Dallas in the NFC Championship game.
Looking to break the trend, the team went all out on the free agent market.
In addition to Sanders, San Francisco signed former Charger linebacker Gary Plummer, former Dallas linebacker Ken Norton Jr., and former Pro Bowlers Charles Mann, Ricky Jackson, Tim Harris, and Richard Dent.
The Niners blew through the regular season with a 13-3 record and Sanders picked up where he left off in 1993.
Although he played in only 14 games during the season, he led the league in interception return yards with 303 and three scores.
He accomplished this after snagging six total picks during the season.
Eric Davis, Tim McDonald, Merton Hanks, and Deion Sanders https://t.co/1Dx4epBQfj pic.twitter.com/z1nE2cxJKe
— Sneaker History (@SneakerHistory) January 19, 2020
One of his interceptions came on a return to Georgia to play the Falcons.
With the home crowd raining boos upon him (and scuffling with former teammate Rison), Sanders did not back down.
During the game, he intercepted Atlanta quarterback Jeff George and went 93 yards to the end zone.
As he flew by the Falcons bench, he stared down his former team.
Despite his histrionics, Sanders won over his new teammates, even the straight-laced Plummer.
In a 2011 interview, Plummer commented about Sanders’ propensity to stand far from the defensive huddle.
This posture led some to believe that Sanders was overly confident and aloof.
Not so fast, remarked Plummer.
“It made him look arrogant, aloof, cocky when he wouldn’t come into the huddle,” Plummer said. “But he wasn’t just over there to dance and jaw with (the opponents’) players and their coaches. He was trying to pick up information. And believe me, even if he wasn’t in the huddle, we had hand signals and he was communicating. … He was as smart a corner as I ever saw.”
Tim McDonald, an All-Pro safety for the Niners who restructured his own contract to help sign Sanders, was also effusive in his praise.
“Deion’s a great player and he brings a lot,” McDonald told reporters in 1994. “He brings excellent man-to-man coverage skills. He brings a lot of charisma and a lot of excitement and I think he’s all business once he steps on the football field.”
The mercenary unit that was San Francisco in ‘94 did indeed exact revenge against their nemesis Dallas.
In the NFC Championship game, the Niners defeated the Cowboys 38-28.
Then in Super Bowl XXIX, Sanders came up with an interception in the end zone to help seal a 49-26 blowout of the San Diego Chargers.
#49ers Super Bowl media day! pic.twitter.com/A0eh4bzs1i
— #Random49ers (@Random49ers) June 9, 2020
After the season ended with Sanders’ first championship, he was voted the 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
San Francisco looked like a lock to repeat as champs the following year, but Sanders would not be with them.
Sanders Signs with Dallas
For all intents and purposes, Sanders appeared to want to re-sign with the Niners after the ‘94 season.
However, it was lost on no one that he would not sign a contract less than his market value, as he had done to initially sign with San Francisco.
Not wanting to face Sanders again, especially in the postseason, Dallas owner Jerry Jones approached him with a huge offer.
After another long waiting period, Sanders finally made his decision during Week 2 of the ‘95 season.
Sanders signed a seven year, $35 million contract that week with the Cowboys.
The contract made him the highest paid defensive player in the league.
What was not well known at the time was that, in an effort to get around the league’s salary cap, Sanders’ 1995 salary was actually the league minimum in addition to a $13 million signing bonus.
That sneaky move by Jones triggered the NFL to institute their own “Deion Sanders Rule.”
The new rule states that a portion of a player’s signing bonus will count against a team’s salary cap.
As it turns out, the Cowboys weren’t the only team willing to pony up serious cash.
In his book Power, Money, and Sex: How Success Almost Ruined my Life, Sanders said he was offered more money to play for the Raiders.
However, the opportunity to win another championship and even play a little receiver was too much to pass up.
In an interview earlier this year, Sanders also explained why he did not re-up with the Niners.
“I was never offered a contract, do you know that?” Sanders told KNBR Radio in January. “You know how I found out I wasn’t coming back? I was playing outfield for the San Francisco Giants and we had a day game, and after the day game I went over to eat at some restaurant. I think preseason had started, and I see a dude on TV with No. 21 on. ‘Well I guess it’s over!’”
There was also speculation that Sanders did not resign with San Francisco because of Jerry Rice’s own contract demands.
Sanders did not hesitate to address that issue in the same interview.
“This is business,” said Sanders. “I think Jerry (Rice) had a clause in his contract that he had to be the second-highest paid player on the team. Which, I would’ve never done that clause, because I want to be the highest paid player on the team. I want to be the highest paid player. Never second. Even if that’s true. Wouldn’t you have encouraged them to sign me back, so they would’ve bumped you up too?”
Another Super Bowl Ring in ‘95
During the 1995 MLB season, Sanders was traded from the Reds to the San Francisco Giants.
The move was odd as he had just left San Fran to join the Cowboys.
With the Giants, Sanders hit .268 for the season.
Although he signed his huge contract, Sanders was out of the line up until Week 9 of the season due to Arthroscopic surgery.
His return coincided with a trip to Atlanta where Dallas dispatched the Falcons 28-13.
Sanders’ limited season translated to only two picks for the year, though he was still an invaluable part of the team.
After eliminating the Eagles and Packers, Dallas returned to the Super Bowl and faced the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During the Cowboys first drive of the game, Prime Time caught a 47 yard pass as a receiver that set up Dallas’ first score of the game.
The ‘Boys would go on to win Super Bowl XXX 27-17, giving Sanders his second consecutive championship.
‘Primetime’ x ‘The Playmaker’, interview, Super Bowl XXX, 1996 @deionsanders @michaelirvin88 @dallascowboys @nfl pic.twitter.com/eNVuY9MKxQ
— Mitchell & Ness (@mitchell_ness) January 29, 2015
1996 & 1997
To get his body right for the Cowboys, Sanders sat out the 1996 baseball season.
He devoted his energy to playing for the Cowboys and responded with an amazing year.
That season, Sanders not only played corner, but also started eight games as a receiver.
That made him the first two-way player in the NFL since Chuck Bednarik in 1962.
In addition to grabbing two picks on defense, Sanders caught 36 passes for 475 yards and a touchdown.
On the strength of his performance, he was voted to his fifth Pro Bowl and also was named First-team All-Pro.
In 1997, Sanders returned to baseball by signing with the Reds.
That season, he stole 56 bases in 115 games.
He then reported to Dallas and had three picks and a punt return touchdown.
Once again, he was voted to the Pro Bowl and named an All-Pro.
Sanders Attempts to End His Life
Most fans can only dream of a life where they are paid millions of dollars, win championships and play two pro sports.
For Sanders, he seemed to have it all.
By the end of ‘97, he had played in a World Series, won two Super Bowls, been paid tons of money, and even put out a rap album (Prime Time in 1994).
However, he was also going through hell.
As his fame and fortune grew, Sanders’ relationship with his wife, Carolyn, had deteriorated and they were about to divorce.
He grew so despondent over the failed relationship that he decided to end it all.
While driving in late 1997, Sanders intentionally swerved his car and pointed it toward a small cliff.
Traveling at 65-70 miles per hour, the vehicle dropped approximately 30-40 feet.
Deion Sanders Shares Suicide Attempt And How It Changed Him For The Better https://t.co/nnvR2j2xOA pic.twitter.com/xkYXH723rV
— WBMN Groovin’ 24/7 (@RadioBlackOn) January 2, 2019
“I was going through the trials and tribulations of life. I was pretty much running on fumes,” he said in a 2018 interview. “I was empty, no peace, no joy. Losing hope with the progression of everything.”
Miraculously, Sanders was not seriously hurt and his car had minor damage.
“The car went down and hit and there wasn’t a scratch on me or on the car,” he wrote in his autobiography.
After walking away from his suicide attempt, Sanders sought out a healthier lifestyle replete with regular church attendance and faith.
With the help of his agent, Eugene Parker, Sanders connected with Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House Church in Dallas.
“Slowly, but surely, I had to deal with my faith, deal with my strength,” Sanders said in 2018. “I had to get a lot of Word in so that I could fight off the enemy. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my faith. People argue about what faith is, and who Jesus is, but it works for me. I’m not going to sit here and argue about who is what, and what is what, I’m just going to say it works for me.”
1998 & 1999
Reinvigorated by his new-found faith, Sanders stopped playing baseball and returned to the Cowboys.
During the 1998 season, he returned one of his five interceptions for a touchdown and also had two punt return touchdowns.
A seventh Pro Bowl and sixth First-team All-Pro nod came his way following the season.
In 1999, Sanders played in only 14 games due to injury but still had three picks and a punt return touchdown.
That was good enough to get him voted into his eighth Pro Bowl.
In his first season with Dallas, Sanders had won a championship, but the team struggled in the playoffs after the ‘95 season.
In 1996, Dallas won a playoff game against Minnesota, but did not win another postseason game while Sanders was with the team.
Mr. Sanders Goes to Washington
On June 2, 2000, the Cowboys cut ties with Sanders to make salary cap room.
Only days later, Redskins owner Dan Snyder signed Sanders for a whopping seven year, $56 million contract.
Hoping to win immediately, Snyder also signed aging stars Bruce Smith and Mark Carrier.
10 Most SHOCKING Free-Agent Signings in @NFLhistory:
10. @KirkCousins8 to MIN
9. @RodWoodson26 to BAL
8. @DeionSanders to WAS
7-1. https://t.co/xh6NSQgFaT (via @thecheckdown) pic.twitter.com/Pwk3FmHt1v
— NFL (@NFL) July 8, 2018
Unfortunately, Washington never got close to the postseason.
After a 6-2 start, the Redskins dropped six of their next eight to finish 8-8.
Sanders had four picks and then retired from football before the 2001 season began.
Now retired from football, Sanders returned to baseball in 2001.
He signed again with the Reds but only played 29 games when he was released with a .173 batting average.
Shortly after leaving Cincinnati, Sanders signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and reported to their single A affiliate in Syracuse.
Although he was hitting a respectable .252 with Syracuse, Sanders decided to retire from baseball as well.
During his last game as a pro, Sanders hit a home run and an RBI single.
In 2002, Sanders was hired by CBS as part of their NFL pregame show and worked with the company through the 2003 NFL season.
That same year, the Redskins waived Sanders from their reserved/retired list in order to allow him to sign with the Raiders for the upcoming playoffs.
However, while passing through waivers, numerous teams sought his services and the Chargers finally won a bidding war.
Unfortunately, according to league rules, Sanders was not able to join the Chargers as it was too late in the season to be activated from the reserve/retired list.
After receiving the news, Sanders opted to stay retired.
Sanders Returns to the NFL
In 2004, CBS told Sanders that they would be reducing his salary.
At the same time, Baltimore Ravens players Ray Lewis and Corey Fuller approached Sanders about coming back to play with Baltimore.
Eyeing his negotiations with CBS as a sign, Sanders un-retired and joined the Ravens.
Tribute to @DeionSanders time as a Raven? #37 👀 pic.twitter.com/K75sEwJT8W
— Daniel Anderson (@xSailorDan86) March 15, 2019
Although he had been out of football for three years, Sanders played well in 2004.
During a Week 7 game against the Bills, Sanders snagged a pick and returned it for his ninth career touchdown.
That placed him second on the NFL’s all time list for that category.
For the year, Sanders had three interceptions for 87 return yards.
In 2005, Sanders had two more picks for 57 return yards.
After the Ravens missed the playoffs for the second straight year, Sanders hung up his cleats for good.
In 14 seasons in the NFL, Sanders accumulated a lot of awards.
Among the many accolades he received included: two championships, eight Pro Bowl selections, six First-team All-Pro selections including two more as a punt returner (1988) and kick returner (1992), NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL’s First-team All-Decade 1990s team as a corner and punt returner, NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time team, and Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor.
Life Since Retirement
Where many former NFL athletes live a relatively quiet life in retirement, Sanders was (and is) just the opposite.
For many years, the NFL Network employed Sanders as an analyst.
His numerous television appearances eventually led to a reality series.
In 2008, Deion & Pillar: Prime Time Love aired on the Oxygen network and featured Sanders with his second wife, Pillar, and their family.
The show lasted only one season.
Six years after his retirement, the NFL Hall of Fame came calling and Sanders was part of the 2011 class.
His Hall bio includes a quote that is all Prime Time.
“They don’t pay nobody to be humble. Some people will come out to see me do well . Some people will come out to see me get run over. But love me or hate me, they are going to come out.”
In 2012, Sanders founded Prime Prep Academy which was a charter school in Texas.
He coached the school’s football team until a staff member alleged that Sanders assaulted him (which Sanders denied).
Prime Prep fired Sanders as coach after the incident.
By 2015, the charter school closed amid financial and legal issues.
After coaching at various high schools for the past five years, Sanders was named the head coach at Jackson State University on September 19 of this year.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the program will not play until 2021.
Deion Sanders was named head coach of Jackson State today.
This is how he arrived to the press conference 🐐 @brgridiron
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 21, 2020
Although he has long since retired from the game as a player, Sanders is still very much involved with football.
Time will tell how he does as a head coach at the college level.
One thing is certain, however.
As long as Prime Time is involved, the hype train will keep right on rolling.
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