The Atlanta Falcons opted to draft a special talent by the name of Deion Sanders with the 5th overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. The Florida State product seemed destined for big things right from the get-go, returning a punt 68 yards for a touchdown in his NFL debut.
It wasn't to be the last spectacular play of Sanders' career either. You don't earn a nickname like 'Prime Time' for nothing.
In a career that spanned 14 years, Sanders represented five different NFL teams (Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens). During that time he notched up an extensive back-catalog of highlight plays, including but not limited to: six touchdowns on punt returns; three TDs on kick returns, and nine pick-sixes (the versatile cornerback also scooped up a fumble and took that baby back to the crib for good measure).
Sanders retired with 53 career interceptions to his name and is one the very best cornerbacks to ever lace up the cleats.
Deion Sanders' honors
Because of his outstanding play on both defense and special-teams, voters named Sanders to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s as both a cornerback and punt returner. He was also named first-team All-Pro an incredible nine times at the cornerback position and appeared in an astonishing eight Pro Bowls during his storied career.
At the time Sanders called it a day in the NFL, he was second all-time in interception return yardage (1,331) and tied second for most career pick-sixes (9). After becoming the first player in history to return two interceptions 90-yards for TDs, Sanders was also named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.
"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 famously quoted in 1989.
Sanders deservedly picked up two Super Bowl rings to solidify his legacy as one of the NFL's All-time greats; one with the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl XXIX and one with the Dallas Cowboys at Super Bowl XXX.
If that wasn't enough, Sanders was also an excellent baseball player, representing the New York Yankees (1989–1990) Atlanta Braves (1991–1994) Cincinnati Reds (1994–1995) San Francisco Giants (1995), and the Cincinnati Reds (1997, 2001).
Like the man said, "Prime Time."
What do you think? Was Sanders one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game? Have your say in the comments section below: