College football is something of an acquired taste. You are either decked out in your favorite alumni college in the parking lot or see your college town turn into a scene out of Project X. In college football, there are a few teams who are known nationwide not matter whether you watch the games or not. Ohio State, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Clemson are some of the names being thrown around every year. While being the most successful teams in CFB, they speak to yet another division between predominantly white universities and black colleges when it comes to exposure. It’s something NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is trying to help in bridging the gap.
A well-accomplished NFL legend, Deion Sanders has spotted a problem in the opportunities that may come with being a college football player at an HBCU. Known for being great and letting others know it too, all eyes are on Sanders to bring a sense of identity and a newfound look on what it means to play college football while black.
As many are aware, America has never looked kindly on African-Americans. Since most HBCUs are not part of widely known Southern conferences, most are overlooked as viable paths to the NFL. With many eyes focused on the other major conferences, finical supports plays a part in HBCUs failing to acquire talent. With such an iconic name in Deion Sanders, eyes are already tuning into Jackson State University (where Sanders coaches) and other HBCUs.
Since becoming head coach over at Jackson State, Sanders wasted no time recruiting his son, Sheduer Sanders, in a move to bolster his stock. QB Shedeur Sanders, made his debut this past Sunday with a 7-6 win against Florida A&M. The Sanders family is charged with leading a new era in HBCU football. Outside of Jackson State, Deion Sanders has plans with uniting other conferences high HBCUs. Sanders talked about merging Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference into Southwestern Athletic Conference during Friday’s press day.
“Personally, I wish the MEAC would fold up like a tent and just come on so we could really do this thing like the SEC,” Sanders said to media members during Friday’s Orange Blossom Classic press conference. “That’s my hope. That’s my dream. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen no time expeditiously.”
Comments like this are what Sanders has been known to do his whole career. The NFL legend isn’t going to bite his tongue for anyone. It prompted the eyes of the college sports world to perk up with curiosity. Sanders sparked conversation again after he prompted SWAC schools to put athletes’ names on their jerseys. It’s one of the many moments where Sanders has advocated for the same luxuries big-name colleges have. As SWAC doesn’t have a policy in place, it would be up to the colleges to enforce that.
“Why do we don’t do that in this SWAC?” Sanders asked. “Is it that expensive to put their name on the back of the jersey? Don’t you think his mom and them, want to see the baby name on the back of the jerseys? Don’t you think his siblings, his friends, his family, his loved ones?”
As the college football season progresses, Sanders is sure to make headlines again. He’s Primetime after all, bringing in seats and box office sales. Deion Sanders is attempting to do something not many famous black athletes do. Whether his methods are right or wrong, his endgame and passion for HBCUs are all the same. He wants others to succeed in a place known for keeping minorities down. Sanders has never let the fame and status cloud his judgment. What’s good for HBCUs is good for the overall black community in American sports.