Deion Sanders: "Certain cities . . . ain't gonna happen" for Shedeur Sanders, Travis Hunter

It happened in 1983. It happened 21 years later, in 2004. It might happen 21 years later again, in 2025.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders vowed last week that Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders and cornerback/receiver Travis Hunter will pick their NFL team next year, not the other way around.

“I know where I want them to go,” Sanders said Friday on the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast, via Brandon Champion of “So, it’s certain cities that ain’t gonna happen. It’s going to be an Eli.”

Eli Manning was the last player to tell the team with the first overall pick that he didn’t want to play there. The Chargers nevertheless drafted him, but then traded him to the Giants.

In 1983, it was John Elway, who didn’t want to play for the Colts. They drafted him and dealt him to the Broncos.

“There were certain cities that fit,” Deion said. “Atlanta fit, and I want that for my kids. All of them. I want the right fit. [Atlanta] was the first time I saw Black people in positions of authority. It blew my mind. It was real in Atlanta. I had never seen anything like that in my life.”

Sanders also mentioned San Francisco, Dallas, Washington, and Baltimore as acceptable destinations. (Deion previously said that he doesn’t want Shedeur to play in a cold-weather city.)

Of course, the places Deion named would have to want Shedeur Sanders or Travis Hunter. Of the cities on the list, only Dallas could be looking for a starting quarterback in 2025, if Dak Prescott leaves in free agency.

It’s nevertheless inevitable that another top prospect will do what Manning and Elway did. (Bo Jackson, in 1986, warned the Buccaneers that, if they took him with the No. 1 overall pick, he’d play baseball. They did. And he did.) As the NIL reality of college football continues to expand, there will be players who can make the credible threat/promise to sit out for a full year, because they will have plenty of money in the bank and can afford to do it.

Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter have NIL money in the bank. They also have something else working for them. They don’t have to say a single word about any of it. Deion will do it.

Eli had his father, Archie, as the voice of the effort to avoid the Chargers. Even though it was Eli who didn’t want to play there, Archie took the heat for it.

It gives the player a buffer from the criticism that otherwise would be directed at a player who doesn’t have a famous family member who can make the case. And there will be criticism, from some in the media and many fans.

We’ve all been brainwashed into accepting the basic premise of the Draft Industrial Complex. It’s an “honor and a privilege” to be told to move to a city where the player doesn’t want to live and to play for a dysfunctional team with a dysfunctional owner and/or dysfunctional G.M. and/or dysfunctional coach and/or a bare cupboard of talent around the player.

The pushback needs to happen, on a regular basis. Deion, who was a trailblazer as a player in many ways, could be the one to spark a new age of resistance against the notion that great players must submit to the bizarre Harry Potter sorting hat that not only determines whether college football players will start their NFL careers but also potentially determines their ultimate football fates. Because if, after a year or two or three, the player isn’t thriving, he’ll be viewed as a bust — even if it’s the team’s fault for failing to develop and/or support him the way other teams would have.

So, yes, we’re here for the coming storm. It’s overdue. And who knows? Maybe it will still happen in 2024.

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