Tonight, a star of stars has been deemed worthy of immortalizing. Deion "PrimeTime" Sanders has been elected a member of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame's 2011 class. A former two-sport star, Sanders is the poster boy for the sports mercenary, playing for nine professional clubs. In baseball he suited up for the Yankees, Braves, Reds and Giants, and in football for the Falcons, 49ers, Redskins and Ravens, in addition to Dallas. He was an elite cornerback and kick returner, and also spent time playing the wide receiver position.
Sanders joined the Cowboys as the league's premier free agent from San Francisco following their Super Bowl winning 1994-95 season. After shopping his services in what was coined the "Deion Sweepstakes", Sanders signed a seven year, $35 million contract that made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. Dallas won his services over the Eagles, Raiders and Dolphins, even though the Raiders are said to have offered him more money. Jerry Jones offered Deion the chance to see extensive time on the offensive side of the ball, and Deion was on his way to Dallas by Week 2 of the season. Remember those Pizza Hut ads: Well what it'll be Deion..15, 20 million? Both. Remember this?
Arthroscopic surgery following baseball season on his left ankle kept Sanders sidelined until his debut in Week 9. The Cowboys still went on to win their third Super Bowl title in four years in Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sanders caught a 47-yard reception on offense, setting up Dallas' first touchdown of the game and a 27–17 victory. Sanders proceeded to play four more seasons with Dallas, earning four Pro Bowl berths. His signing was met with a bit of trepidation by some fans because of his flashy nature, but there was no doubting his talent. Deion is the gold-standard definition of a lockdown corner.
While his cover skills could never be questioned, one of the biggest knocks on Sanders was that he refused to put his body at risk in attempting to bring down players with larger builds than his. That pretty much eliminated everyone, as Deion was slightly built at 6'1", 198lbs during his playing days. The phrase 'making a business decision' refers to avoiding contact because of Prime Time. He made a bad business decision in 1994 when he set out on a failed quest at a rap career. There was no denying his ability to close on a defender though. His lightning quick reaction time allowed him to wait until the last moment to make a play for the ball, often baiting the opposing quarterback to throw in his direction. By the time he reached Dallas, quarterbacks only tested him out of sheer stupidity, or ego.
Congratulations Deion Sanders, you are now in the Hall.
Dallas Career Stats from Pro-Football-Reference.com:
Offense: 49 catches, 647 yards, 12.7 ypc, 1 TD, 5 fumbles
Defense: 14 INTs 2 TDs, 2 FFs 1 TD, 148 Tackles
Returns: 89 punts returns for1184 yards and 4 TDs
Career accolades from Wikipedia:
--- Sanders was an eight-time Pro Bowler, six-time first team All-Pro, two-time NFC Defensive Player of the Year
---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.
--- NFL.com named Sanders #34 on NFL's Top 100 list released in late 2010.