During his playing days, cornerback Deion Sanders did a great job of covering receivers.
In his retirement, he now finds himself trying to elude reporters.
On Thursday, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News tracked down Deion (thanks Brooks) to talk about his involvement with 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, whose holdout about nothing ended this week, and Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant, who has lost his NCAA eligibility after lying about his interactions with Deion.
Sanders recently spoke to the New York Times regarding Bryant’s falsehood: “The kid panicked, man. I don’t lie, and he panicked.”
Sanders was uncharacteristically guarded when Cowlishaw came calling.
“I’m employed by the NFL, you know I can’t talk,” he said. “What I said to the New York Times, that’s what I had to say. I’ll be talking about these things on the NFL Network this weekend.”
It’s not the classic “tune in at 11″ tease, but it definitely will cause more people to watch and listen when Deion addresses the situation in a friendly forum. (That said, we’d wager that Rich Eisen will find a discreet and professional way to push Deion on these issues. The only problem is that, because they are on-air colleagues, there’s only so much Eisen can do if Deion opts to zig when Rich zags.)
Cowlishaw then asked Deion the key question regarding Crabtree’s holdout — given that he got the same deal now that he could have gotten in July, what did it gain?
“You’re kidding, right?” Deion said. “Treat me with class, Tim. The same way I treat you.”
When it comes to college players and those entering the NFL, Deion has been operating largely under the cover of daylight for a while. Now that his role has been noticed and obvious questions are being asked, he’s running for cover.
And so we come back to what we’ve been saying all week — the NFL needs to press Sanders, not in a studio with Rich Eisen but in a conference room with Jeff Pash, regarding Deion’s knowledge of the apparent tampering with Crabtree, Deion’s business relationship (if any) with agent Eugene Parker, and Deion’s interactions with any and all college players whom he is “mentoring.”
Based on the available evidence, a growing throng of league insiders suspects that Sanders could be lining up clients for Parker and getting paid for it — a possible “shadow agent” as Tony Kornheiser suggested on Thursday’s PTI. Given Deion’s employment with the NFL and presence on NFL Network, it’s a matter that needs to be fully and completely explored, because if Deion if in fact helping Parker land clients (and getting paid by Parker for it), then it would give rise to a significant actual or perceived conflict of interest, given Deion’s on-air platform to push certain players or, as he did on September 4, indirectly bash certain agents not named Eugene Parker.