Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffalos shocked the college football world in Week 1 of the season when they upset the TCU Horned Frogs. Colorado was historically bad in 2022 pre-Sanders, and you may recall that TCU played in the 2022-2023 National Championship just a few months ago.
A huge win is an understatement, as the rest of the college football world has taken notice of what is going on in Boulder. Sanders has come a long way as a college football coach with his best ahead of him, but today, we look back at his NFL playing days.
Exploring Deion Sanders’ Hall of Fame NFL Career
The Atlanta Falcons selected Sanders with the fifth pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. Sanders played five seasons for the Falcons, and during his time in Atlanta, he intercepted 24 passes, developing into one of the best ball hawks in the game.
During his time as a Falcon, Sanders made headlines playing professional football and baseball, solidifying his reputation as one of the world’s best athletes of all time. What he was able to do by playing at a high level in both sports was truly remarkable.
San Francisco 49ers
Sanders came in and made the most of his only season in San Francisco. He won NFL Defensive Player of the Year and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl title — the first of his career.
Sanders intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, capping off a dominating performance by the 49ers in their championship season.
Sanders left San Francisco after just one season, and the “Sanders Sweepstakes” commenced. Six teams participated in the free agent frenzy: the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, 49ers, and the eventual winners, the Dallas Cowboys.
Deion Sanders cowboys highlights to celebrate the start of his D1 coaching career pic.twitter.com/YE9Ig75HRa
— America’s Team (@RoadToSix) September 2, 2023
The Cowboys signed Sanders to a seven-year, $35 million contract, which, at the time, made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
Sanders later explained in his book that he chose the Cowboys because of the opportunity to play offense, his friendship with Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, and a chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
The decision paid off, as the Cowboys went on to win the Super Bowl in Sanders’ first season in Dallas. Sanders played at an elite level throughout his Cowboys career, earning four Pro Bowl selections during his time in Big D.
In 2000, the Cowboys needed to save money to get under the NFL salary cap and, as a result, released Sanders.
Sanders’ tenure with the Washington franchise was brief, ending unceremoniously. Following his abrupt exit from the Cowboys, Washington signed Sanders to a seven-year, $56 million contract.
Remember when Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith played for the redskins? pic.twitter.com/pcrDUhF3jw
— Ali Siddiqui (@asiddiqui15) November 4, 2022
Sanders played one season for Washington and then ended up calling it a career in 2001.
Toward the end of the 2002 season, Washington waived Sanders from the reserve/retired list so he could play for the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Sanders, five NFL teams claimed him on waivers, including the San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tennessee Titans.
The Chargers were awarded his rights since they had the highest priority, but since it was so late in the season, Sanders never actually suited up for them.
After a brief time away from the game, Sanders ended his retirement in 2004 to play with the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Lewis, Corey Fuller, and Joe Zorovich convinced him to join the team.
Sanders did not wear his traditional No. 21, as it was already spoken for in Baltimore, with Pro Bowl CB Chris McAlister donning the number. Sanders pivoted to No. 37 in honor of his age at the time.
During the 2004 season, Sanders tied for second place in all-time interception returns for a TD with Aeneas Williams and Ken Houston. Sanders returned for one more season in 2005 before officially calling it quits. The Ravens did not make the playoffs in either of his seasons, and Sanders retired once more in 2006, officially ending the “Prime Time” era in the NFL.