“Whew,” breathed New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to close out his postgame conference call. “I’m tired.”
That followed a 12-catch, 122-yard effort from Sanders to help his team defeat the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night, 30-27. It’s a new personal high for Sanders in receptions, which he noted during his press conference. It’s also nearly as many completions as he had in the previous four games combined (14).
He’s come close several times, catching 11 passes three different times — most recently in a 2019 game against the Chicago Bears, gaining 98 yards as a member of the Denver Broncos. His previous 11-catch outings came in 2014 (picking up 149 yards) and 2016 (100 yards even).
From a pure yardage standpoint, this was the ninth-highest total in Sanders’ career. It’s the most receiving yards Sanders has gained in a game since last year’s matchup against the Saints as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, ironically.
Talk about a vintage performance for the 33-year old. He and Drew Brees are in sync as well as any quarterback-receiver duo could hope to be.
And that bodes well for the offense once Michael Thomas is back in the lineup, after serving his one-game suspension. The Saints have a week of rest ahead of them during the bye, and then they’re onto Week 7’s matchup with the Carolina Panthers’ vulnerable secondary. If Sanders can keep this momentum going, there’s no telling what sort of heights he could reach.
Deion Sanders’ appointment as the 21st head football coach at Jackson State University isn’t about publicity. Nor is it just about football.
It’s about opportunity.
Not for Sanders, the two-time Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back—his illustrious playing career coupled with his personality and charisma have opened doors to plenty of those. “Prime Time” is a household name.
Rather, his appointment is an opportunity for the next generation. For student-athletes at Jackson State. For student-athletes across all historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“We’re employed by Jackson State and the dream and goal is to build Jackson State, but the overall big picture of things is to build HBCUs in general,” Sanders told me. “If we get a five- or four-star kid in another HBCU, I think we won; not ‘we’ as in Jackson State but we won in general because now we’re leveling the playing field. It’s so vital that we shed light on things like why can’t these kids have a bowl game at the conclusion of the season? Why aren’t these kids being invited to the NFL Combine? Why aren’t these kids having the same opportunities other kids are having when you’ve had four Hall of Famers derive from Jackson State University?
“So that means giving it a level playing field—the same type of locker rooms, the same type of academic resources and software, the same type of tutoring, as well as stadiums and fields. Giving that same balance, I guarantee you, you will see tremendous upside coming from HBCUs. It’s very vital that we get that understanding out publicly.”
In August 2019, Ohio State University, the fifth-most valuable college football team according to Forbes, unveiled its newly renovated Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The $7.8 million upgrade to the east wing of the football team’s practice facility included a new kitchen and nutrition area, recovery and rehabilitation area equipped with a cryotherapy chamber and sensory deprivation tanks, a barbershop, full basketball court, golf simulator, and arcade games.
Clemson University, which clawed into the top 25 most valuable rankings in 2019, unveiled its $55 million Allen N. Reeves Football Complex in 2017, featuring a 23,000-square-foot weight room, state-of-the-art training room, lap pool, golf simulator, movie theater, two-lane bowling alley, and barbershop. The university’s Memorial Stadium is also poised for a $70 million makeover.
In 2017-18, Clemson brought in a school-record $40 million in athletic contributions with deputy athletic director Graham Neff telling Forbes: “There is a strong, strong correlation between football success and the contribution increase.”
While Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) powerhouses including Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, Michigan and Texas continue college football’s never-ending facilities arms race fueled by eye-popping dollar amounts stemming from contributions, income from licensing and royalties, ticket sales, and gaudy TV broadcast deals doled out by their respective conferences, HBCUs aren’t afforded the same luxury of