Deion Sanders Needs to Get Over Himself

© Eric Shelton/Clarion Ledger via Imagn Content Services, LLC

This type of story pops up at least once per year.

Last year, we had the Alabama television guy who proclaimed that it was “disrespectful” to call Nick Saban by his first name. He got destroyed on Twitter.

This year, it’s Deion Sanders becoming annoyed with a reporter who called him by his first name at the SWAC media day:

First, this is total bullshit. Plenty of people call Nick Saban “Nick” and have called him “Nick” without getting “cussed out on the spot.”

Second, the “treat me like Nick” line is cringeworthy for a guy who has a 4-3 career coaching record following one season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Sanders is deserving of respect for his immense career as a two-sport athlete, but do not dare link yourself to the greatest college football coach of all time. Deion sounds ridiculous.

Third, the reporter, Nick Suss, explained himself in a story written by a Clarion-Ledger colleague:

Suss is the Ledger’s Ole Miss writer who has crossed over several beats, most recently covering Mississippi State in its College World Series championship run. This is Suss’ second time covering Sanders at SWAC Media Day.

“When I interview people, I call them by their first name,” Suss said. “Whether it’s someone I’ve been working with for years or someone I’m talking to for the first time. This is true of the coaches and players on the Ole Miss beat, the coaches and players at Mississippi State and Southern Miss when I help out covering their teams and, as recently as January, even Sanders, too.” 

Suss has referred to Saban and the football coach on his Ole Miss beat, Lane Kiffin, by their first names, along with the Bulldogs’ national championship baseball coach, Chris Lemonis.

We’ve been over this before. If a coach or player who is new to a job asks to be referred to as something specific, there’s generally zero problem with that. Usually that is established at the first media session or introductory press conference.

But it is totally ordinary to call a coach by their first name or accepted nickname. We call Doc Rivers “Doc” and we call Joe Girardi “Joe.” Nick Sirianni is “Nick” and Alain Vigneault and Jim Curtin go by… Alain and Jim. “Coach” is also fine and considered acceptable.

Otherwise, Deion needs to get over himself. He’s Deion Sanders. He’s not the pope. He’s not the President of France. This reporter is not 22 years old, fresh out of college, and nervously referring to the company CEO as “Mr.” whatever. We’re talking about college football here, not sitting at fancy dinner with foreign dignitaries.

Deion comes off sounding like a tool here.