Deion Sanders on why he wants to be called ‘Coach’: ‘I’ve never stood for foolishness’


During his NFL heyday with Atlanta and Dallas, Deion Sanders went by “Primetime.” But as the Hall-of-Famer has made abundantly clear, he won’t respond to that anymore, preferring to be addressed as “Coach.”

Sanders’ insistence on the media calling him “Coach” rather than “Primetime” or “Deion” became apparent this summer when he chewed out a reporter—before walking out of a Zoom call—for not affording him the same respect as Nick Saban. Sanders, now in his second year coaching Jackson State, was asked about the incident during Friday’s appearance on First Take, and, while many felt he overreacted to what was otherwise a benign exchange, the 54-year-old maintains he did nothing wrong.

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“I’m from the old school. We grew up respectful and honorable. Every parent or person older was a Mr. or a Mrs. or a ma’am, or ‘No ma’am’ or ‘Yes, sir.’ That’s just the way I grew up. I can’t think of a person who’s ever coached me that I didn’t title by his name, or a person of authority that I didn’t give them the proper label that they deserved,” Sanders explained to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. “To just call someone by their name to try to belittle what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve worked for, that’s just not right and I wasn’t going to stand for it. I’ve never stood for foolishness, so why would I stand for it now?”

This has been a recurring theme with coaches, perhaps weary of the media becoming too comfortable, being more vocal of late about wanting to be called by their proper title. In an awkward interaction at Giants training camp this summer, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett made a point of demanding reporters greet him as “Coach,” while Joe Maddon of the Los Angeles Angels recently corrected a player at the Little League World Series for referring to him as “coach” instead of “manager.”

In his interview with Stephen A, Sanders also elaborated on a subject he raised last week, arguing that players in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) should have names displayed on the back of their jerseys. “To see these guys out there working their butts off, committed to your university, to the alumni, to the fan base, to the student body, doing their homework, sometimes they’re having jobs that Power Five kids don’t have to have. And you can’t even put their name on the back of the jersey so the mama or the father or Grandma can distinguish, ‘That’s my baby?’” asked Sanders. “That name means something. When we bypass minimal stuff like that, we’re going to bypass other things. These kids deserve it. I just want to fight for every darn thing they deserve. If they get it in the Power Five, we should get it too.”

After escaping with a 7-6 win at Florida A&M last week, the Tigers will host Tennessee State in their home opener Saturday at 7 PM ET.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer, Getty Images