Former pro football player Deion Sanders received significant backlash when he announced he was leaving his coaching position at Historically Black College and University Jackson State University to take a higher-paying post as a top coach for the University of Colorado.
There were fans and even sports analysts who called Sanders a “sellout” for leaving the HBCU program for a predominantly-white institution.
The Hall of Famer used a recent press conference to explain his move.
During the Dec. 16 Celebration Bowl press conference, Sanders, known as Coach Prime, noted that he never claimed he would stay at Jackson State forever.
Celebration Bowl is a postseason college football bowl game between the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Southwestern Athletic Conference —the two prominent conferences of HBCU in NCAA Division I.
“Never once did I say they’re gonna put a tombstone with my name on it at Jackson State. So I wasn’t gonna die here. Y’all know that,” he said.
He also pointed out that he achieved all his goals at Jackson State, where he coached for three years.
“Everything I said I would do, I did. Everything I said I wanted to happen, I tried my darndest to make it happen. We’ve exceeded, I think, expectations, in some realm,” Sanders said, “But when I don’t fit into someone else’s plan and purpose, now there’s ridicule. But you forgot about my plan, and God’s purpose. That’s where the dysfunction comes in,” he stressed.
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Sanders also patted himself on the back for his coaching abilities.
“I’m a football coach and a darn good one. Name one thing in football that we haven’t accomplished that I said we would. But it’s bigger than that. And until we address these underlying issues that nobody wants to talk about, ain’t nothing gonna’ change,” he said.
He added, “I’m a change agent. … When we leave, you’re gonna find out what all we did. Because they don’t really talk about positivity ’til we go. You’ll find out what all we did for Jackson State and all we wanted to do for Jackson State. I just pray to God that in all our getting, get some understanding of change and where change really starts. It does not start in the football department.”
Deion Sanders speaks during a news conference for the Celebration Bowl NCAA college football game between North Carolina Central and Jackson State, Dec. 16, 2022 in Atlanta. Jackson State is looking to wrap up its first undefeated season in its final game under coach Deion Sanders, who has been hired as Colorado’s coach. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)