4. Life Calling
After what was essentially a decade-long bacchanalia, Deion hit a low point in his life in 1998, when he was playing for the Reds, claiming that he intentionally drove his car off a cliff. Somehow, he came out totally fine, with a new perspective on life.
“You try to fulfill your time and your needs,” Sanders said at the time. “I was just empty. I tried cars, jewelry, clothes, women, money … Nothing could fulfill me.
“I know who I am, what I am, where I’m going and how to get there.”
Say what you will about the virtues and shortcomings of organized religion, but becoming a born-again Christian seemed to help Deion turn his life around and gave him some focus. And along with his burgeoning media career, he became a mentor for young football players, with the idea that they could benefit from his experiences. He also put his name on a charter school named “Prime Prep” in Texas.
This isn’t to say there haven’t been some bumps in his road to redemption. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly people who have been helped by Deion’s guidance and wisdom; Pac Man Jones, for example, cites him as someone who has helped him stay on the right path. I would tend to give Deion the benefit of the doubt in that regardless of his motivations, his chosen pursuit has no doubt led to some perfectly quantifiable positive results. That, to me, seems like progress.
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5. World View
Deion Sanders isn’t exactly a fan of “Throwback Thursday,” believing that when we focus on the past at the expense of dealing with the present and future, we photoshop out the bad aspects in search of an unattainable ideal that never existed to begin with. Instead, he chooses to endorse something called “Throw Forward Thursday”:
“Let’s start throwing our dreams, visions and goals forward until we achieve them. Let’s throw forward to our future. While things may be painful in your present, they cannot prevent the promise of your future.
“Get this in your head … your future is bright! Begin to invest in it. Every time you work on your dream, you are throwing forward to your future. When you ignore your own problems, trials and tribulations, and help someone else with theirs, you are throwing forward to your future.”
Regardless of what you think of him, you could do far worse than to subscribe to Deion’s philosophies. And it certainly seems like he’s come a long way from parachute pants and terrible rap albums.
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When I was growing up, Deion Sanders was pretty much the epitome of cool, possessing substantial amounts of both sizzle and steak. His antics and colorful personality were bolstered by the fact that he was the best and most feared cornerback and punt returner in the game, able to swing the balance of the whole league as a frequent free-agent mercenary. Not to mention, he was a good enough athlete to become a more than credible baseball player — not Bo Jackson, but nothing to sneeze at.
In a way, Deion’s “Prime Time” persona was a precursor to Floyd “Money” Mayweather: Even more than his magnificent athletic gifts, what resonated with the public were his carefully cultivated and readily broadcast tastes for excess, which eventually submerged his entire personality in a sea of gold chains and would-be hip-hop anthems.
It was bemusing, reassuring and — just maybe — a bit of a letdown when Deion claimed to have become born again. But rest assured, Deion still has quite a bit of Neon left in him — he just dresses better and perpetually espouses a message of positivity.
We all wanted to emulate Deion when we were younger – and nobody possibly could, he was inimitable. But in honor of his 47th birthday tomorrow, here are five lessons I feel anyone can learn from observing Prime Time.
Follow Bryan on Twitter at @SportsAngle