CANTON, Ohio -- Deion Sanders on Saturday became the 13th Cowboy to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Or was he?
Sanders played for the Cowboys for only five seasons, the same as with the team that drafted him, the Atlanta Falcons. He also played for three other teams in his 14 NFL seasons.
Sanders' No. 21 jerseys dotted the crowd of 13,300 at Fawcett Stadium. Some fans wore his 49ers' replica. Others had on his Cowboys' jersey. Still others had the Falcons' version.
His children, five of them, each wore a different one of his jerseys, which Sanders made mention of in his 24-minute, 30-second acceptance speech.
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Sanders is the only player in the seven-member Class of 2011 that has two T-shirts for sale in the Hall of Fame gift shop. There is one of him with the Cowboys and another of him with the Falcons.
"We had a special word for him, because if you needed a Super Bowl or if you needed an extra piece, he was that guy," said Nate Newton, Sanders' former Cowboys teammate. "I think of him as a Cowboy, but most people think of him as a Falcon, the fifth player picked. But I'm always looking at him as Deion Sanders, my best friend; Deion Sanders a Dallas Cowboy."
Sanders did not ask anyone from any of his teams to present him. Instead, it was his agent, Eugene Parker, who had the honor. It was Parker who negotiated the seven-year, $35 million deal with the Cowboys in 1995 that included a record $12.99 million bonus. It allowed Sanders to win back-to-back Super Bowls, with the 49ers in '94 and then with the Cowboys.
But it is the Falcons who first have honored Sanders in their Ring of Honor. Cowboys Jerry Jones said he would consider adding Sanders to the team's Ring of Honor in the future.
Many of Sanders' former Cowboys teammates, including Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, attended Saturday's induction. Though Sanders' bust includes only his likeness, sans helmet, the Cowboys consider him one of their own.
"The five years he had with us equaled [the five years he had with] Atlanta, but he won a championship with us," Jones said. "I certainly think we can raise our hand relative to what he did at San Francisco. He did it one year there.
"He's there in Dallas, that's his home base, and I've maintained a really top relationship with him over the years. So I do think of him as a Cowboy."
Sanders became the 267th inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, unveiling his bust more than three hours after the ceremony began. He lived up to his Prime Time image by recognizing the celebrities in Canton for him, including hip-hop artists Snoop, Nelly and Ice Cube, who were expected to headline his post-induction party.
Sanders also showed another side of himself by honoring the kids of The Truth Sports League, which he founded, after they made the trek from Dallas-Fort Worth on seven buses.
Sanders spent the first nine minutes thanking those who helped him find his way to Canton from his humble beginnings in Fort Myers, Fla. He thanked so many people so quickly that the names sometime ran together.
He named 112 people before getting to his mother, Connie Knight. Sanders had promised her when he was 7 that he would be rich one day, so she would never have to clean bedpans as a hospital custodian again.
"If your dream ain't bigger than you, there is a problem with your dream," Sanders said.
Sanders said everything he did was for his mother, including creating his Prime Time image.
"I will leave you with this: Many of my naysayers said, 'You know Prime didn't tackle,'" Sanders said. "I said, 'Well, show me some film where he didn't or where he hurt his team.' But I want to respond to that publically because that affects me; that bothers me....Since 1989, I've tackled every bill my momma has ever given me. Haven't missed one."
But before he exited, Sanders had one last order of business. He pulled a bandana from his pocket, and said, looking at his bust, "I like it, but one thing is missing."
Sanders added a do-rag, which he played with under his helmet, to his bust, his induction complete.