Deion Sanders – – or Coach Prime as he prefers to be called these days – – has always been a polarizing figure. It was easy to be enamored of his athletic gifts; it was equally easy to be turned off by his “hey-look-at-me” antics. After a time in the TV business, Sanders opted to get into college football coaching in his 50s which is a lot later than the typical age for career entry in that field. In addition, he started his college career at the head coach level which is uncommon.
His success in three years at Jackson State was noteworthy; Jackson State had not been particularly relevant in football for quite a while until Sanders arrived and basically changed everything there. His success there plus his notoriety got him the head coaching job at Colorado where the football program has devolved to pudding status recently. And “Coach Prime” has changed things up there already – – even before a single game has begun.
Yesterday, USA Today reported that Sanders has potentially serious ongoing health issues:
- Since 2021, he has had 10 “surgeries” on his left leg. Procedures included entries on both sides of his left calf and the amputation of two toes on his left foot.
- Last week, doctors removed a “really bad blood clot” in his left thigh in addition to several “smaller clots” below his knee.
Look, I am no medical professional, but it seems to me that any condition that impedes blood flow and/or provides for the possibility of throwing a blood clot into the circulatory system must be considered a big deal. Moreover, according to this report, doctors have detected another clot in Sanders’ right thigh and plan to remove it in the near future. The fact that this ongoing condition has already required the amputation of two toes makes it appear as if either or both of Sanders’ lower limbs could be at risk.
Whether you liked or disliked Deion Sanders as a player or a broadcaster, this is a serious situation that calls for compassion on the part of sports fans. Deion Sanders entertained millions of sports fans; they should now be ready to support him in this challenge.
Moving on … Another outstanding NFL player made the news yesterday. JJ Watt retired earlier this year after a 12-year career that saw him earn:
- Defensive Player of the Year – – 3 times
- Pro Bowl selection – – 5 times
- First Team All-Pro – – 5 times.
Watt is a shoo-in for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after the required waiting period has passed but he now will embark on another career path. Yesterday, he proclaimed on social media that he will be joining CBS as part of their broadcast team starting this year. Current plans call for CBS to use Watt as a studio analyst and he is slotted to be part of The NFL Today programming on that network. Being a great player does not necessarily translate into becoming a great broadcaster, but Watt has always appeared to be comfortable, relaxed and articulate in interview situations. Here is what I mean by him being comfortable in social situations away from football:
- In announcing his new employment situation, Watt said that he was glad to have a “global platform to make fun of my brothers on”.
- That statement did not come from a PR Department or a communications consultant; that just came naturally.
It seems to me as if JJ Watt has the basic personality aspects needed for success on the airwaves; so, if JJ Watt can develop them further while retaining his obvious insight into the game of football, he should be successful at CBS.
Switching gears – – yet staying with the idea of retired great athletes and recent happenings, Michael Jordan sold the Charlotte Hornets for a reported $3B. He was not a 100% owner, but reports say he cleared about $2B from the deal which added to his liquidity to expand his brand to other ventures. Jordan already has a line of athletic shoes, an alcohol brand that features “high-end tequila”, a NASCAR racing team among other ventures. When Jordan bought into the Hornets, the team value was less than $300M; that was in 2010 so the franchise value increased by a factor of ten in thirteen years. Not a bad rate of return.
I think the price involved in this transaction points to a current trend that may be unique in US sports history. Rich people are paying incredible sums of money to acquire sports franchises in 2023. And it is not just the highly successful franchises or the ones in the so-called “big-time/glamor markets” that command high prices. Charlotte NC is not NYC or LA or Chicago or Houston in terms of market size or market glamor and the Hornets have not exactly been a huge success during Jordan’s time at the helm. Since acquiring his stake in the team, Jordan’s record with the Hornets was a less-than-gaudy 423-600 (winning percentage = .413).
Finally, let me close today with this comment by author R. D. Rosen. This comes from 1975; I wonder what he thinks about things today:
“We are living, practically no one needs to be reminded, in a therapeutic age. The sign in every storefront reads, ’Psychobabble spoken here.’ Personal liberation, relating, being in touch with one’s feelings (as aspiration that sadly presumes that we are so out of touch with our feelings that we must now make a project out of reclaiming them) – the whole pop vocabulary and grammar of human growth appear more and more suspect.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………