After Shannon Sharpe brought down the house with one of the greatest Hall of Fame speeches of all time, it remained to be seen whether Deion Sanders could match Sharpe, or beat him.
He came close.
Initially, it looked like he’d fall dramatically short. Deion launched straight into a laundry list of thank yous that covered high school, college, and four NFL teams. (He didn’t have much of anything to say about his second team, the San Francisco 49ers.)
After about eight minutes, Deion started to get rolling. He spoke with wonder about “this game” he played, and then he thanked his children and his wife.
He specifically thank his wife, Pilar, for putting up with him “because I’m not easy to deal with.” (Cameras caught her saying in return with a smile, “You’re not.”)
And then he was back to talking about “this game,” weaving those two words in and out of his speech.
Deion admitted that he was ashamed about his mother’s job in a hospital, and that he wanted her to never have to work. Because defensive backs weren’t paid as much as players at other positions at that time, he created the “Prime Time” persona in order to help his mother get out of that hospital job. And at one point he passionately — almost angrily — said that he ignored all criticism and negativity because he was driven by the desire to help his mother.
So how did he get it done? Deion said he expected it. And he said that the high degree of expectations is what separates Hall of Famers from everyone else.
And, of course, he couldn’t leave the podium without pointing out the widespread criticism that he doesn’t tackle. “That insinuates that I’m soft, and I got kids,” Deion said.
So what did he tackle? “Since 1989, I’ve tackled every bill my momma has given me.”
In other words, he didn’t tackle.
Deion wrapped up by challenging other Hall of Famers to provoke change, by promising that with Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube present to celebrate with him they would “tear this thing up,” and he finished things up by putting a “do rag” on his bust.
The bust didn’t really look like Deion. Once he put the “do rag” on there, it did. Here’s hoping it stays there when they move the bust inside the Hall of Fame.