Last night, as I watched Deion Sanders deliver his induction speech into the NFL Hall of Fame, I was reminded of the time he flipped me the bird.
The year was 1998. The month December. Deion was playing for his third NFL team.
Being a New Orleans Saints fan of long standing I of course despise the Atlanta Falcons so when the dirty birds drafted the brash talking, cocky, cornerback out of Florida State I was quick to decide I didn't like him either.
From Atlanta, Deion moved on to the San Francisco 49ers and oh how I hated the 49ers because in those days they were the elite team in the Saints division.
And to top it off "Primetime" as Mr. Sanders billed himself signed on with the Dallas Cowboys. Given the fact 90% of my buddies were Cowboy fans and gave me constant shit about the Saints having never won a playoff game in the history of the NFL I didn't like anything about the boys with the blue star.
I viewed Deion "Primetime" Sanders as the epitome of the primadona athlete. He had no loyalty to his team or their fans. Only the the limelight and the almighty dollar. He was a defensive mercenary willing to play for Satan himself.
The morning of Sunday December 6th I woke up in my New Orleans hotel with a considerable pounding in my head. It was me, my wife, and a buddy who was a devote Cowboy fan. We had tickets for the Saints/Cowboy game at high noon but as my feet hit the floor I wasn't sure I'd love that long, for you see I'd had a bit TOO much fun the night before.
My buddy had never been to the Superdome so we headed to the game extra early to look around. With every heartbeat the throng in my skull hit harder than Deion ever did an opposing ball carrier.
In those days the Superdome had a sort of rundown mall attached to it. Most of the stories were empty and I've heard it has never reopened since Katrina but I can't say for sure, but we arrived before the doors to the dome were open so I headed over to the mall to buy some aspirin or Tylenol. I found the pills I needed but soon discovered at 9:05 on a Sunday morning there wasn't a single place open to buy a bottle of water or a can of cola. However, I did find a place already selling beer, so I bought a Blackened Voodoo Dixie and chased my medicine down with some hair of the dog.
We wandered over to watch Buddy D rant and rave as he delivered his radio show live from the mall. By the time I finished that first beer I was feeling much better so I bought another.
When the Dome doors opened we were some of the first fans inside. This was back int he days of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin so the Cowboys were still a good team though Barry Switzer had began the act of destroying them so the end was near.
For the Saints it was the dismal Mike Ditka, Kerry Collins, Wilmont Perry years. My buddy was cocky confident. I was not, but by the time I finished my third and fourth Blackened Voodoo Dixie I was starting to feel some Who Dat magic.
Our tickets were on the next to the last row of the Superdome. As we sat down I noticed a lone player was out on the field running and cutting. The swagger - the do-rag - quickly revealed it was none other than Deion "Primetime" Sanders. He'd been injured and missed a few games for "turf toe" but the talk was he was going to play this week. Feeling rather boisterous I headed down to the bottom rail of the the Superdome's third tier and began calling out.
"It's just a toe!"
"Suck it up!"
He continued to run wind sprints and cuts for twenty minutes and I hollered down to him the entire time, never once getting a reaction.
"You're getting too old Deion!"
"Deion! You are passed your Prime Time!"
As he finished his warm-up Deion pimp walked towards the tunnel. His cocky swagger, along with the Blackened voodoo Dixie pumping through my veins, prompted one more taunt from me. "Deion! You Suck!"
Without ever turning around Primetime raised his right hand high in the air and extended one finger as if to say, Hey, loud mouth in the upper deck. I heard you and you can kiss my ass.
A half hour later, when the rest of the team came out, Mr Sanders appeared in a fancy gold trimmed suit and he stood on the sideline that day and watched a bad New Orleans Saints team kick the crap out of the boys with the blue star. Saint won 22-3 in total domination, but last night as I watched Deion deliver is speech I couldn't help but smile realizing not everyone has been flipped off by a Hall of Famer.