After his team had overcome such luxuries as no running water and an inability to shower, Deion Sanders had imparted a final message to his Jackson State University football team as it readied for the Orange Blossom Classic against rival Florida A&M.
“If you want sacks, get sacks!,” Sanders said, in part, during a locker-room address to his squad.
The result? Jackson State once again had toppled the Rattlers in the Miami-area kickoff-classic.
This, however, was decidedly different. A year after beating FAMU, 7-6, Jackson State suffocated the Rattlers, 59-3, in a game that felt like the Tigers could name their score.
Shedeur Sanders – Deion’s son and the Tigers’ starting quarterback – opened with 17-straight completions in command of the JSU offense.
“2 felt they comfortable. 2 felt very comfortable with just preparation in the week and coaches got me ready for this moment,” the younger Sanders said during a sideline interview with ESPN in which he tried to speak only in third-person answers. “2 got a great O-line. Let’s just say that.”
So is the third-person interview a tribute to dad and head coach?
“I didn’t know (Deion Sanders) did that. 2 got that from himself,” he said. “O-line did an excellent job. The way they were able to protect me, keep me upright, I can’t ask for no better. Defense did better than we did last year.
“You Gotta understand we don’t just say we’re gonna dominate just to say it, to write it on the board. We mean it, we live by it everyday and that’s what’s preached in the locker room and that’s what we stand for. This was a big, big, big opportunity. We chose the culture this way.”
And what, precisely, is that culture?
Well, it’s one in which Deion Sanders during post-game revelry pulled the Tigers’ freshman kicker, Alejandro Mata, to the front of the JSU locker room in order to translate Sanders’s victory speech.
“We kicked their butts,” Sanders said, and then waited for Mata’s translation. “It wasn’t even close. We did that.
“Now give me my theme music!”
Will the Tigers’ locker room be celebrating next week? Jackson State battles Eddie George’s Tennessee State squad in the Southern Heritage Classic at Memphis’ Liberty Bowl Stadium at 7 p.m. (ET).