By Mark Ellis –
At a media press conference December 4th introducing Deion ‘Coach Prime’ Sanders as the 28th head football coach at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Sanders unabashedly witnessed about his faith.
He appeared alongside Chancellor Phillip P. DiStefano and Athletic Director Rick George.
When Sanders first reached the lectern after his introduction by the AD, he shook his head and said, “Don’t you ever tell me what God can’t do. Don’t you ever tell me His limits. Out of all the persons in the world, God chose me. For that I thank Him. For that I love Him. For that I magnify Him. For that I glorify Him. For that I praise Him. For that I owe Him each and every day, I’m trying to please Him.”
His bold Christian witness hearkened back to a former head football coach at CU, Bill McCartney, who led the football program for 13 seasons, and amassed an impressive winning record before he quit, in order to launch the Promise Keepers men’s ministry.
It remains to be seen how the liberal campus – sometimes considered the ‘Berkeley of the Rockies’ will warm to Sanders’ unflinching faith.
Sanders had a stellar athletic career, playing for five NFL teams and four MLB teams. He is the only athlete in history to play in a Super Bowl and a World Series. Most recently, he has been the head football coach at Jackson State, where he coached the team to a 12-5 record over three seasons. The team is currently undefeated, and Sanders will coach them in their championship game before he formally takes charge of the CU program.
“It’s funny how God always takes me to the unthinkable and provokes me to do the things that people wouldn’t fathom doing. I never would have thought last year when I was laying in the hospital dealing with these blood clots, getting two toes amputated and the sides of my legs cut out that I would be in Colorado in this beautiful weather, this beautiful place, this beautiful city which is virtually crime-free, with 36,000 students and a fan-base that won’t stop. Don’t you ever tell me nothing that God can’t do. This is flat-out incredible. God is incredible!”
Sanders underwent a procedure in 2021 to repair a dislocated toe along with an inflamed nerve. Unfortunately, he later developed complications, and his toes began to darken during his recovery. “They were talking about the amputation of toes,” Sanders told ESPN. “Then they were talking about the amputation of my leg from the knee down. Then, they were trying to ensure I had life.”
He developed a femoral arterial blood clot along with severe swelling in his leg. Doctors had to flay open his leg to drain fluid. Then his left foot’s big toe and second toe were amputated.
Sanders’ Christian testimony reflects a turbulent private life, with two failed marriages. In 1997, Sanders went through a rocky time with the failure of his first marriage. “I was going through the trials and tribulations of life. I was pretty much running on fumes. I was empty, no peace, no joy. Losing hope with the progression of everything,” he told Faith on the Field.
Despondent and overwhelmed by his problems, he attempted suicide by driving his car off a cliff. Remarkably, he survived the 30-to-40-foot drop without any injuries.
Chastened by the experienced, he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. “I finally just got on my knees and gave it all to the Lord.” He also began counseling with Bishop T.D. Jakes, who became a major influence in his life.
Sanders is grateful for the opportunity at CU, even as he leaves behind a successful team at Jackson State. “The Bible says God uses the foolish things to confound the wise. He’s always taken me to unlikely places When you’re really great at something, usually you’re a staple of that organization. Sometimes I wondered why I had to play for five different football teams and four different major league baseball teams. It’s because God took me from place to place, faith to faith, glory to glory, to bring unity, solvency, peace, joy, happiness, to bring love to others, and that’s the same darn reason I’m here now. He always uses an unlikely person to do an unlikely thing.
“My dream is to bring you back to where you know you should belong. We are coming! Boulder, Colorado, you have no idea what you have blessed me with. If anybody asks you, ‘When is he coming back?’ tell them, ‘I don’t know, but I know he’s coming!’”