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Jackson State University’s Deion Sanders has never been known to be quiet. And when you call his name, you best not miss.
Earlier this week, legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban addressed his gripes with college football’s recruitment process and accused other football programs of “paying players.” A big no-no in college sports.
While alleging that Texas A&M “bought every player on their team … made a deal for name, image and likeness” in reference to the Aggies’ top-ranked recruiting class, Nick Saban also said that Jackson State (Sander’s team) “paid a guy a million dollars last year.”
“It was in the paper and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it,” Saban claimed.
Nick Saban out here dry snitchin’.
While Coach Saban didn’t drop Deion Sander’s name specifically, it was easy to connect the dots to Travis Hunter, the nation’s No. 1 recruit who spurned his longtime verbal commitment to Florida State to instead sign with Jackson State.
Saban apologized Thursday, particularly for singling out Sanders and JSU.
Aflac or not, Deion Sanders isn’t ducking Saban.
Coach Sanders, the Pro and College Football Hall of Famer entering his third season at JSU, issued a quick rebuttal to Saban’s initial statements late Wednesday night.
Sanders was clearly disturbed that Saban insinuated it took $1 million to recruit a top African American prospect to play football at an HBCU.
You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow. I was & awakened by my son @ShedeurSanders that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED @TravisHunterJr a Million to play at @GoJSUTigersFB ! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.”
While sports pundits debate the nuances of paying players under the table, shady boosters, and sleazy recruitment tactics, no one wants to talk about what Sanders said.
Deion Sanders knows being Black at an HBCU is its own reward.
Coach Sanders understands as a Black man leading other Black men, that the opportunities and access afforded to Predominantly White Institutions have never matched that of HBCUs. Even still, Sanders is under no disillusion about why Black players and students chose to attend JSU.
Nick Saban doesn’t think about the pride that exists on HBCU campuses that no amount of PWI well-funded alumni, championship games, and promised pipeline to the NFL can provide.
Coach Deion Sanders knows that the HBCU experience is far more rewarding than a $1 million check. Coach Sanders knows the HBCU experience offers students and his athletes an opportunity to exist and learn in a world where their Blackness is not critiqued but celebrated.
For years Black college athletes were unable to legally profit from their contributions, but now rules exist which allow them to do so. Traditional powerhouse college coaches like Saban are threatened by the player’s newfound empowerment that allows them to choose where they’d like to play based on their culture, not a college program.
So when Deion Sanders says, “We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE,” he’s talking about something deeper than football.