Deion Sanders – One-on-One with Prime Time on Family Values

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If you know football, you know Deion Sanders. Primetime! Mr. “Must Be The Money.” Neon Deion. The Hall-of-Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion hasn’t really needed an introduction since his meteoric rise in the NFL spotlight, but these days it’s his moves off the field that require conversation. The second season of his reality show, Deion’s Family Playbook premieres on OWN Network on Saturday, November 1st at 9p.m. EST. For those that aren’t familiar, the show features Deion in a light that many might not be familiar with—Deion as a family man raising 10 children. That’s not all however, as Deion also helps run a charter school in Dallas Texas, Prime Prep Academy for grades K-12, and a nonprofit organization, Prime Time Association (aka TRUTH), which teaches young adults through sports and education.

The show finds Deion moving to South Dallas to be closer to his school, but he also has to deal with the challenges of maintaining his long distance relationship with longtime girlfriend Tracey Edmonds, who is taking on her first hosting gig in Los Angeles. “It’s not easy on our relationship,” Sanders admits. Time is the most precious coin we possess, and we gotta be careful how spend it.”

Deion is still a charismatic individual on television and in the flesh. On his press day he joked with a room full of media throughout his discussions about the upcoming season of the show. He spoke of his success on the football field, and on the baseball diamond. He also joked, seriously of course, that he was the best athlete turned rapper with his hit single, “Must Be The Money” and ’94 album release Prime Time.

We got an opportunity to go one-on-one with him to discuss the show, the state of the NFL and his organization. He was sincere in our conversation and I was impressed with his demeanor, spirituality and knowledge. Check out our conversation here…

Parlé Magazine: I know you’re about to get into the second season of the show, but let me ask you, what made you even want to do this reality show?

Deion Sanders: A lack of fathers, ethnic fathers on television, doing the right thing. I don’t think we have that on television right now like we used to back in the day when we had Good Times, The Jefferson’s, The Cosby’s, Sanford and Son, and Archie Bunker, all prevalent fathers, present but not perfect for their kids. George Jefferson moved on up, had a wonderful relationship with Lionel. Sanford and Son, there was a woman in that house, a spiritual woman, her name was Esther. But his relationship with his son, although he ridiculed him with names, he was there. You talk about Good Times, a house full of kids, spiritual, foundation. Things never worked out for old James but guess what? He never gave up… and he was there! And then you talk about the Cosby’s. Two affluent parents, both of them had jobs, the kids was in school, getting an education. See the influence of the parents reminds me of Tracey [Edmonds]. She’s been pretty successful herself. And then you move over to Archie Bunker who felt like nobody was good enough for his baby girl. All these fathers have flaws, but they were there. And I just don’t see that today. I want to give you a glimpse of something that’s right on television. We used to rush home to watch these shows with the family. When’s the last time we sat down to watch anything that we approve—there was no profanity, no suggestion of sex or homosexuality, which to each his own, but just a family show.

Parlé: I agree. Now, you have 10 children that look up to you and obviously you are a huge success, but what legacy would you like to leave for your children?

Deion: When I’m gone, when I pass, I want them to rarely mention what I did on the field, but I want them to mention what I did in life and the way I provided. When you have a charter school grades K through 12, do you understand you’re providing over 100 jobs for people? Teachers, faculty, administration. And then when you have a reality show, do you understand that’s another 50 jobs that you’ve created, with benefits. It’s those kinds of things, that you made a way out of no way, that you gave someone an opportunity, not necessarily a handout but you gave them a hand up. That’s the legacy I want to leave. Forget sports. Sports was just my platform to catapult me to where I am. Sports is what I did, but it’s not who I am.

Parlé: That’s interesting, because just knowing where I’m from and where I came up, everyone feels like they need to be in sports or some form of entertainment…

Deion: Because they feel like that’s their way out.

Parlé: Exactly.

Deion: Yeah, because we don’t identify or glorify others that are just as successful. The richest people that’s living today never picked up a ball or a bat or a glove, a racket or anything. That’s real! The people that play sports that done made a lot of money, we’re just your entertainment. The richest people is the one’s sitting up in that box that own the thing. We need to introduce our kids to them.

Parlé: Switching gears a little bit, the NFL has taken a huge hit this season with the numerous off the field issues. I’d be a fool if I didn’t ask one of the legends about your thoughts regarding some of that.

Deion: What the NFL deals with is a reflection of life. If you have an office building with ten employees someone is gonna get high, someone is gonna get drunk, someone is gonna try to sex everything in the building, someone is gonna be ignorant, someone is gonna be adolescent, someone is gonna be abusive, someone is gonna get pregnant. That’s life. Just because we have a talent you think we’re immune to those trappings of life? Not necessarily so. We’re just like that, you just have an opportunity to see a snapshot of it and it’s real. And then we sensationalize it with media. All the things that happened, that transpired, it’s sad, it is what it is, but someone is gonna grow from it, someone is gonna get help from it, someone is gonna mature. When God allows something like that to be seen publicly it means that this world needs help in those areas. And I guarantee from that, that was seen publicly, a lot of people got help.

Parlé: Talk to me about your organization, Prime Association.

Deion: Well it’s really TRUTH, which means Trust in God, Respect myself and others, Understanding there’s endless possibilities, Try my best and never give up, Honor the truth and its creator at all times. We work with ages 5 to 14. We use sports to really educate the kids and we really started through that. I found out that when the season was over our student’s grades were really going downward so my coach and I were running around to try to get their grades together. So I said, we might as well do this ourselves. So you try to put together a team and you gotta understand that when you try to put together a team to do right somebody’s going to be corrupt and my co-founder was that. We got him out, we rid the problem, got tremendous bad press and they wanted to shoot at me because they’ve never had the opportunity to shoot at me and actually hit because I’ve always tried to do right and treat people right. But we still here and we still living.

Parlé: People are going to watch your show and they will develop their own opinions of you and some may already have preconceived opinions, but what do you hope viewers say about you when they reflect on the show?

Deion: When people watch they usually say I didn’t know he was like that, I really didn’t know that dude was like that. I know he was 100, I know he was Prime, but I didn’t know he was that type of a father. I see why he got his kids. I understand now. I didn’t know he could articulate himself like that, I didn’t know he was that loving and caring. He got a school??? Hold on, he got a whole school, ain’t a night club, ain’t a bar, ain’t no restaurant, this joker got a whole school. Why he keeping all those kids? Is all of them his? Naw, only 3 of them is his, so why he got 5 other ones living in the house that ain’t his? I didn’t know his heart was like that. And it continues and continues and continues. When you get over the initial shock of what you see than we get into the life lessons. It’s always going to be problems and it’s always going to be solutions. And I love it that way.

Deion’s Family Playbook
season 2 premieres on OWN Saturday nights beginning November 1st at 9p.m. EST. Be sure to tune in.

Images by Reggo Wilson for Parlé Magazine

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