TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Before he was “Prime Time,” Deion Sanders forged his reputation as an elite athlete on the Florida State practice fields. It was Sanders’ message of work ethic and drive that FSU coach Jimbo Fisher asked the Pro Football Hall-of-Famer to convey to the Seminoles before their practice on Wednesday afternoon.
Making a rare stop in Tallahassee to record a TV interview with Jalen Ramsey, Sanders spoke to the FSU football team about his own story, and how, as FSU football players, they must embrace high expectations.
“You guys have got to pay strict attention,” Sanders said. “You can’t waste a moment. Not a minute. Not a second of your time. … What I’ve seen today means every time we have a moment to get better, we must maximize the moment.”
Sanders did plenty of that during a football career that spanned nearly 25 years.
One of the first superstars in FSU football history, Sanders was a two-time consensus All-American and winner of the 1988 Jim Thorpe Award before embarking on an NFL career that incuded two Super Bowl championships, eight All-Pro selections and spot in the Hall of Fame.
Mickey Andrews, FSU’s longtime defensive coordinator, famously called Sanders the best “practice player” he had ever coached.
“He was a great player, but why was he a great player?” Fisher said. “You see all the ‘Prime Time’ and the glitter and the glam. There was a reason he had that confidence: because he had prepared to do it, and he worked to do it.
“They think Deion (was successful) just because he had all this ability, but he took that ability and applied it. And that was the message we were trying to get across.”
Sanders brought up all the amenities that current players enjoy.
Oversized stadiums, indoor practice facilities and state-of-the-art players’ lounges are great, but they bring with them a higher standard.
“What I saw today means we can’t casually walk and graze through life,” Sanders said.
And once the foundation of work is in place, Sanders said, it’s OK to enjoy the fruits of the labor.
Sanders reminded that evidence of his career is scattered all over Doak Campbell Stadium – as it should be.
“You can call it cocky, you can call it arrogant, you can call it what you want,” Sanders said. “But when I walk through this complex, I expect to see whole lot of me. I expect that because of what I put in. I expect that.”
Sanders’ message was apparently well received.
Fisher has had a variety of guest speakers visit throughout his tenure, but, for a defensive back like junior Trey Marshall, Sanders is tough to beat.
“Growing up as a DB, that’s all you wanted be is Deion Sanders,” Marshall said. “He made being a DB cool. He’s definitely one of the best speakers that could come.”