Over the past three months, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
CB Deion Sanders
You can rightfully tout Sanders’ incredible body of work, intercepting 53 passes in 14 seasons for Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington and Baltimore. Don’t forget nine first-team All-Pro awards and eight Pro Bowls. Certainly mention his being named to the All-Decade Team for the 1990s.
But also consider this: When asked whom he’d take in their primes, Jerry Rice or Sanders, Bill Belichick picked Deion. That says a lot.
They said it
“They don't pay nobody to be humble. Some people will come out to see me do well. Some people will come out to see me get run over. But love me or hate me, they're going to come out." — Sanders
That just about sums up the “Prime Time” experience.
Sanders scored touchdowns on punt returns, kickoff returns, interception returns, a fumble return and as a wide receiver.
Did you know?
Sanders haunted the 49ers so much (four INTs, kick-return TD in eight games against them) that they felt compelled to sign him as a free agent for one year, even at the risk of losing him the following year.
He delivered. Sanders was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year with six interceptions, an insane 303 return yards and three TDs. He joined the team in mid-September after a stint with the Atlanta Braves and played 14 games with San Fran. But they won the Super Bowl, with Sanders picking off two more playoff passes.
Rice and Sanders had epic battles. Their first time truly going head to head in 1991, Sanders held Rice to six catches for 44 yards (long catch of 10) and intercepted a pass in the end zone headed for Rice.
When they met again late in 1993, it was as good of theatre as you can hope for. Sanders held Rice in check well — not all his 105 yards came against Deion — and intercepted two passes. It was a classic Sanders performance, helping contain and frustrate a legend.
These two didn’t like each other all that much when they played. But we loved watching.
Previous "Team for the Ages" player unveilings