We’ve disagreed over the years with plenty of things that soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders has said and done. Most recently, we didn’t care much for his Twitter-style excuse-making on behalf of cornerback Pacman Jones, who while on probation in Las Vegas got himself into trouble in Cincinnati.
But we agree completely with Sanders’ position regarding the primary challenge presented by young, rich athletes: Getting them to listen.
“It’s hard to talk to a person when they have millions, man, because there is so much noise in their life,” Sanders recently told WCNN, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “Everybody around them is employed and they have ‘yes men.’ You gotta start hiring a ‘no man.’ Somebody who is going to tell you no and somebody who is going to tell you the truth and a lot of these guys don’t.”
Amen, Deion. With a “no man,” Mike Vick never would have gone to jail. With a “no man,” Pacman Jones never would have been suspended. With a “no man,” JaMarcus Russell never would have . . . well, OK, JaMarcus Russell probably still would have become a bust.
The subject arose in connection with one of Sanders’ former proteges, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.
Asked whether Deion is concerned about Bryant, Deion said, “Everybody is. I think the Dallas Cowboys are more concerned than I am. I’m not losing any sleep by any means. . . . I had to cut my umbilical cord with him because a lot of things people do not know about. I’m trying to open schools and get these kids prepared for the future and I can’t have that on my record saying that: How am I going to send my kids to your school and this is what you are turning out over here? No, I am not turning that out over there. I have nothing to do with that and I had to cut that cord because you can’t keep doing the same old things that you’ve always done. You are going to get the same old things you’ve always got, so that’s why I had to separate myself. I love him. I see him from time-to-time. I pray for him, but as a unit we had to separate.”
Bryant previously has suggested that Deion ended their relationship after Bryant decided not to do business with UnderArmour. Also, Deion previously found himself embroiled in a controversy after Bryant was suspended by the NCAA for lying about his relationship with Sanders, which prompted speculation that Sanders was serving as a runner for his agent (and Hall of Fame presenter), Eugene Parker.
We can’t fault Sanders for cutting Bryant loose if Bryant’s conduct was hurting Sanders’ brand. But we’d love to know more about what Bryant did, in order to determine whether Sanders was justified to move on, or whether he was simply abandoning the kid because things became public that Deion didn’t want to see publicized.
Either way, whatever happened between Sanders and Bryant wasn’t bad enough to prompt Parker to decline to represent Dez. And that sets up a bizarre triangle; Sanders and Parker are sufficiently close that Parker will be presenting Sanders for induction into the Hall of Fame, Deion has cut the cord on Dez, and yet Parker (who is in best position to be Bryant’s “no man”) still represents a player with whom, for whatever reason, Sanders no longer could coexist.