Of all the eligible candidates to join the Class of 2011, Deion Sanders is the most dynamic personality off the field, and was perhaps even the best player on it. In his first year of eligibility, Sanders has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It’s difficult to overstate Sanders’ athletic gifts -- he was one of the fastest players of his era at any position, he demonstrated outstanding positional awareness, and he was extremely versatile, having been utilized in offensive, defensive, and special teams units. Though this doesn’t augment his Hall of Fame case, it’s worth noting that Sanders’ baseball career was more than a hobby; in 1992, Sanders his .304 and led the league in triples (despite missing over a third of the season). He joined the Braves in the World Series that year, hitting .533 over four games with a broken bone in his foot.
Sanders acquired the name “Prime Time” with the Atlanta Falcons, where he began his football career as the fifth overall pick of the 1989 NFL Draft. In 1994, Sanders left to play one season for the San Francisco 49ers, with whom he would run back three interceptions for touchdowns and win Super Bowl XXIX. He would return a year later to win Super Bowl XXX with the Dallas Cowboys.
Over 14 seasons with the Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens, Sanders would finish with 21 touchdowns (six from punt returns, three from kick returns, nine from interception returns, and three as a wide receiver) and 53 interceptions. He appeared in eight Pro Bowls, and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1994. It’s difficult to imagine a player with a better combination of well-roundedness and talent.
For more on the Pro Football Hall of Fame candidates, as well as inductee announcements, stay tuned to this StoryStream.