for Deion Sanders Baseball Career, see Deion Sanders (baseball)
Sanders, also known as Neon Deion and Prime Time, is considered one of the greatest and most versatile athletes in recent American sports history, much like Bo Jackson. In football, he is considered to be one of, if not the greatest cover cornerback of all time.
Sanders was a star in three sports for the Florida State Seminoles, participating in football, baseball, and track. Beginning his freshman year, when he started in the Seminoles secondary, played outfield for the baseball team that finished fifth in the nation, and helped lead the track and field team to a conference championship, it was clear that Sanders was an exceptional athlete on a national level.
At Florida State, under head coach Bobby Bowden, Sanders was a two time consensus All-American cornerback in 1987 and 1988, and a third team All-American in 1986, intercepting 14 passes in his career, including three in bowl games, and managed to return one interception 100 yards for a touchdown. He won the Jim Thorpe Award in 1988 and is widely considered to be the best cornerback to ever play college football. He was also a punt returner for Florida State, leading the nation in 1988 with his punt return average, and breaking the school's record for career punt return yards. His jersey at Florida State, #2, was retired in 1995, only the second jersey retired in school history (after Ron Simmons's #50 in 1988.).
Deion Sanders's professional football career started the same year as his baseball career, 1989. He was the fifth pick of the first round in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, where he played until 1993. During his time there, he intercepted 24 passes, three for touchdowns. During his stay in Atlanta, Deion claimed that the Georgia Dome was the house that he built.
San Francisco 49ers
After five seasons of feeling like the only bright star in Atlanta and yearning for a Super Bowl championship, Deion signed on to played one season with the San Francisco 49ers, where he had arguably his best season as a professional football player. He was voted the 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded an interception in the 49ers 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.
On September 9, 1995, Deion Sanders signed a lucrative contract with the Dallas Cowboys (7 years, 35 million with a 12.99 signing bonus) essentially making him at the time, the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Arthroscopic surgery kept him sidelined until his debut in week 9 against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons. He later went on to help the Cowboys win their unprecedented third Super Bowl title in four years with a win in Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he returned a punt for 11 yards and caught a 47-yard reception on offense, setting up Dallas' first touchdown of the game and a 27-17 victory. He is the only player to catch a pass and make an interception in the Super Bowl. At the trophy presentation, Sanders stated " I didn't even get to hold the trophy last year" in regards to his previous employer in San Francisco.
After 5 seasons with the Cowboys, he later was acquired by the Washington Redskins and played one season before abruptly and unceremoniously retiring in 2001.
In 2004, lured back to football by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Sanders announced that he was going to end his retirement. He signed a 1-year deal reportedly worth $1.5 million with the Baltimore Ravens to be a nickelback. Sanders chose to wear the number 37, which matched his age at the time, to preemptively let people know that he was well aware of his relatively old age for an NFL player (The number 21 was used by him throughout his entire career, but was already in use on the Ravens by Chris McAlister). On October 24, Sanders scored his ninth career touchdown on an interception return against the Buffalo Bills, moving him into a tie for second place behind Rod Woodson (12) all-time in that category. Sanders is one of a handful of NFL players in skill positions to play after the age of 35.
In January 2006, Deion Sanders once again, unceremoniously retired from the game of football. Ironically, leaving the game and the Cornerback position he help revolutionize rather quietly, as opposed to the flashy, grand entrance upon entering the NFL in 1989.
During his 14-year career, the All-Pro Deion Sanders was one of the most feared pass defenders to ever play the game. He was so versatile, that he was a threat to score every time he touched the football. He intercepted 53 passes for 1331 yards (a 25.1 yards per return average), recovered 4 fumbles for 15 yards, returned 155 kickoffs for 3,523 yards, gained 2,199 yards on 212 punt returns, and even caught 60 passes for 784 yards. Sanders scored 22 touchdowns: 9 interception returns, 6 punt returns, 3 kickoff returns, 3 receiving, and 1 fumble recovery. His 19 defensive and return touchdowns are an NFL record. Although his tackling was poor and his covering technique was unorthodox, his blanketed shadow of a receiver aided by his blinding speed and athleticism more than compensated at one of the NFL's toughest positions. He was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.17 seconds by NFL scouts  and 4.28 seconds at the NFL combine . As a result of this, Sanders was completely respected in the defensive secondary and offensive coordinators and opposing teams were forced to alter their game plans accordingly. Over the course of his NFL career, Sanders was selected to 8 Pro Bowls in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999. He was also awarded the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1994.
One of the few successful two-way players of the modern NFL, Deion was occasionally used as a wide receiver at times appearing as nothing more than a decoy, as his speed kept opposing defenses honest and fully aware of the deep threat down field. But during the 1996 season, Sanders skipped baseball and his traditional two-sport persona by concentrating strictly on football and attended the first NFL training camp of his career to better familiarize himself with the nuances of the Wide Receiver position. He became the first two-way starter in the NFL since Chuck Bednarik for the first half of the season due to Michael Irvin serving a six game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
- College Football News named Sanders #8 in its list of 100 Greatest College Football Players of All-Time.
- The Sporting News named Sanders #37 in their Top 100 Football Players of the Century released in 1999.
- ESPN named Sanders #74 in its list of the 100 Great Athletes of the Century released in 1999.
While at North Fort Myers High School, Sanders was drafted by the MLB Kansas City Royals, and was later drafted while in college by the MLB New York Yankees. While playing under head coach Mike Martin, at Florida State, Sanders hit .331 in 1986, although he was known more for base stealing, having stolen 27 bases in 1987.
Sanders also ran track during his years at Florida State. On one occasion, Sanders played the first game of a baseball double-header, ran a leg of a 4X100 relay, then returned to play another baseball game.
|14 year NFL career||189||53||1331||0||9|
Punt Return Stats
|14 year NFL career||189||212||2199||10.4||68||0||6|
Kick Return Stats
|14 year NFL career||189||155||3523||22.7||0||3|
|14 year NFL career||189||60||784||13.1||3||0|
|14 year NFL career||189||9||-14||-1.6||0||0|
|14 year NFL career||189||1||0|
|14 year NFL career||189||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||39.6|
Fumble Recovery Stats
|14 year NFL career||189||18||9||4||15||1|
- Won the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1994