The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
Who embodied the NFL in the 1990s better than Deion Sanders? “Neon” caught the self-promotion bug early; as a Florida State senior he showed up to their game against Florida in a tuxedo, via limousine. From the time he arrived in the NFL as a Falcon in 1989 until he left as a Raven in 2005, there wasn’t another player louder, more talented, or more divisive than Sanders.
Sanders says he gave up the flamboyant bit after a suicide attempt in 1997 and committed his life to religion. He gave hints about his fading taste for the spotlight earlier than that, telling the Associated Press in 1995, “In college, maybe you wanted the glamour and the limelight and all the interviews. But now I’d rather be away from it,” he said. “Everybody wants exposure and endorsements and making a lot of money, but you can’t leave your hotel room… Once in my life, all this was cool. Now I just like to play the game and go home.”
In addition to the Falcons and Ravens, he played for the 49ers, Cowboys and Redskins, winning two Super Bowls and never spending more than five seasons in the same place. He changed bandana colors at each stop, famously breaking out a black one to tie around his Hall of Fame bust at his induction in 2011.
— Robert Klemko