Canton, Ohio Prime Time has come to Canton — with an extra touch of gold. And a black do-rag.
Deion Sanders strutted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night sporting a pair of gold shoes to go with the gold jacket emblematic of the special company he has become a part of.
At the end of his riveting acceptance speech, he placed his ubiquitous do-rag on his hall bust.
Neon Deion indeed.
“This game,” Sanders repeated dozens of times, “this game taught me how to be a man. This game taught me if I get knocked down, I got to get my butt back up.
“I always had a rule in life that I would never love anything that couldn’t love me back. It taught me how to be a man, how to get up, how to live in pain. Taught me so much about people, timing, focus, dedication, submitting oneself, sacrificing.
“If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.”
Sanders joined Marshall Faulk in entering the hall in their first year of eligibility. Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter and Ed Sabol also were enshrined before an enthusiastic crowd of 13,300 — much lower than the usual turnout. With today’s Hall of Fame game a victim of the 41⁄2-month NFL lockout, Fawcett Stadium was half full.
Not that Sanders needs a big audience.
The dynamic cornerback and kick returner ran off a list of people who influenced him as smoothly as he ran past opponents, whether running back kicks or interceptions — or even catching passes when he appeared as a wide receiver, or dashing around the bases in the major leagues, including one World Series appearance.
He spoke of promising his mother she could stop working in a hospital when he became a success, and of how he created the Prime Time image at Florida State — then turned it into a persona.
A Hall of Fame persona.
“What separates us is that we expect to be great,” he said. “I expect to be great, I expect to do what had to be done. I expect to make change.”
Just as Sharpe expected to change his life as a kid who went to college with two brown grocery bags filled with his belongings.
In a captivating acceptance speech, Sharpe passionately made a pitch to get his brother, Sterling, who played seven years with the Packers, considered for election to the shrine. Sterling, who introduced his younger brother for induction, wept as Shannon praised him.
“I am the only player who has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and am the second-best player in my family,” Sharpe said.