“Neon Deion,” “Prime Time,” and now, “Coach Prime.” Regardless of what nickname you have known Deion Sanders by, it is hard to ignore how much this football legend is inspiring the sports world right now.

The head coach of the University of Colorado Buffalos has not only taken the college football world by storm, but he also seems to be everywhere in American culture. Sure, there are the creative Aflac and California Almonds commercials, but what Sanders is doing within his team’s locker room is the real story. Before we dive into Sanders’ impact, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of Sanders before he was “Coach Prime.”

From #2 to #21

Born in Fort Myers, Florida, in 1967, Sanders was a star defensive back for Florida State University from 1985 to 1988, where he arguably made the #2  jersey cool in football. He was also an outstanding baseball player, drafted by the Kansas City Royals and, later, the New York Yankees. Along with Bo Jackson, Sanders became one of the only two-sport professional athletes playing Major League Baseball and the NFL. He was the fifth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1989 NFL draft. He would sport #21 for the Falcons.

From 1989 to 2005, Sanders dazzled the professional sports world with his abilities and charisma. He was ubiquitous, insisting he was the definition of his designed nickname, “Prime Time.” And he was correct. Sanders became a two-time Super Bowl champion (with the 49ers and the Cowboys). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. As for baseball, Sanders had a career batting average of .263, playing for five franchises from 1989-2001.

If accomplishing these things while playing two professional sports was not enough, Sanders also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated five times, held numerous endorsements (Nike, Pizza Hut), and was the only non-QB to host Saturday Night Live prior to 2019.

Post Playing Days

Sanders joined the NFL Network as an analyst while simultaneously dipping into the world of coaching. From 2012 – 2017, Sanders coached in Texas High School programs, where he had the opportunity to join his sons. Ultimately, this led to Jackson State hiring Sanders in 2020. Over three seasons there, Sanders led the team to a 27-6 record. Moreover, he began to establish a reputation for his positive impact on his players. Star recruits opted to join Sanders’ lesser-known program. For example, Travis Hunter chose Jackson State because of Coach Sanders instead of going to a bigger-name school.

In December of 2022, Sanders was hired by the University of Colorado. This is where the modern-day “Coach Prime” really begins. With the Buffalos sitting at 3-0 heading into their biggest game of the year in Oregon, let’s dive deeper into four ways Deion Sanders is inspiring everyone.

  • 'Leaders' and 'Dogs'

    You will notice, graced upon the black, gold, and white jerseys of Colorado football players, there will be an occasional “L” patch or “D” patch. These marks replace the traditional “Captain” badge. They are believed to be awarded to players who exemplify great leadership amongst the team, and to those who are relentless on the field. When Sanders first arrived at Colorado, he was brutally honest with the team he was inheriting. Coach Prime advised that many of them may want to look at transferring. Eighty-six new players were brought into Colorado to eventually make up Sanders’ team. Three of the most notable new Buffalos were his sons Shilo (safety), Shedeur (quarterback), and the aforementioned Travis Hunter (receiver and defensive back). Shedeur sports a “L” while Hunter has the “D.” But really the two patches mean something similar. Regardless of who you are or where you came from, you hold yourself accountable on and off the field.

  • Self-Confidence - 'I Ain't Hard 2 Find'

    Sanders never had a problem telling you what he would accomplish or letting everyone know that he is the best. And he backed it up. Coach Prime is not installing an offensive or defense that has never been seen before. He’s simply getting his team to believe in him, but more so, to believe in each other and themselves as individuals. Sanders casually told his players that “he ain’t hard to find.” In other words, he’s there for them and has their best interest at heart. This has become a slogan that even Sanders himself sports on Colorado sweatshirts. If you Google it, Instagram and TikTok posts galore come up.

  • 'We Got Now'

    Last week, prior to Colorado’s matchup against rivals Colorado State, Sanders was ridiculed by the opposing coach, Jay Norvell. Norvell criticized his choice of wearing a hat and sunglasses. Sanders did not jab back in the media. He casually led his team to believe that now it’s “personal.” Prior to Colorado’s first game, Sanders’s pre-game speech rallied behind a quote, “We ain’t got tomorrow, we got now.” He followed with, “We ain’t coming no more,” to which the locker room erupted into “We here.” It’s an attitude the team has embodied all season. They won the Colorado State game in overtime. And Norvell may have done Sanders a great favor. Prior to the game, Sanders gave each player on his team a pair of Blenders Eyewear, his new sunglasses partner. In the following days, $4.5 million worth of Blenders Eyewear was sold. The reportedly moved about 70,000 units. Unfortunately, Travis Hunter was injured during the game after an awful hit by Henry Blackburn. This week, Sanders with grace, said Blackburn did not deserve the threats he was getting from fans. He reminded everyone this is a game, and the young man made a mistake.

  • 'We Here'

    Coach Prime inherited a Colorado team that was in rough shape. They were coming off a 1-11 season, and Sanders was brought in to turn it around over the next few years. Well, three games in, each game has been nationally televised, all home games are sold out, and if you attempt to buy tickets, they are difficult to come by. ESPN’s College Gameday has already been to Boulder, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in-tow as a special guest. Still, the Buffalos have their biggest games ahead with Oregon this week and USC after that. Their opponents will certainly have a challenge playing against a team with a ton of self-confidence, who believe in one another, and are “already here.”

    For daily inspiration and motivational quotes you can follow Coach Prime on Twitter.

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