Deion Sanders the Quarterback/Kicker

19 11 2010

I was sitting with Deion Sanders this past Tuesday at the Chelsea Piers sports complex, on Manhattan’s West side, when he admitted he wanted to play quarterback and kicker in the NFL. Apparently, cornerback, kick returner and, briefly, wide receiver weren’t enough. He told me a lot of other things as I was there to interview him and a game producer for EA Sports’ Active NFL Training Camp, which was released the same day. I got only a few of Deion’s quotes into the story, so I figured I’d run the entire interview here. First, the link to the Wired.com story and then the Prime Time interview after that:

EA Brings NFL Training Camp Into Your Home

Kyle Stack: Does this bring back memories of Training Camp?
Deion Sanders: It does. It’s the closest thing to it. It’s not going to simulate the NFL or Training Camp or the Combine, but this is close. They did a great job of getting a lot of coaches, trainers as well as strength and conditioning coaches and guys like myself behind the scenes to help. They did a good job.

KS: What was the toughest Training Camp experience for you?
DS: Training Camp isn’t tough, man, to me. I loved it because you get to compete every day. Anytime a man gets to compete; I thrive on challenges. This game offers not just 70 different drills but eight different challenges. I love challenges. That’s what Training Camp was to me — a challenge every day to improve your game.

KS: When you trained in Atlanta, where did you train?
DS: You’re not hearing me, man. I’ve only gone to like two training camps in my life.

KS: Even with the 49ers and Cowboys?
DS: Never as a Falcon. Never as a ‘9er. I think two…maybe two as a Cowboy. One as a…yeah, one as a Redskin and Baltimore. So, never early in my career did I go to a training camp.

KS: Of the camps you went to did you ever race with guys?
DS: [Smiles and shakes his head] Too old and too bold to be racing. Racing days are over after the Combine. After you run the 40 at the Combine, that’s it.

KS: So, in Major League, when Snipes is in that race…that’s all Hollywood?
DS: Yeah, that’s Hollywood. You know, some guys, ooo, I take that back. One training camp, one day in the summer in Dallas a young kid thought he could run against me. I got out the hole on him and looked back at him and just let him know who he was dealing with.

KS: You didn’t give him a head start?
DS: No. I just wanted to humiliate him. [Smirks] I had the high-step on him, hand behind the head, everything. [He’s] lucky they weren’t YouTube-ing back then.

KS: When you talk to players, what’s the toughest part of camp for them?
DS: I don’t think a lot of guys like the contact part of it because you’re [physically] sore. Then you gotta come back the next day and rekindle that fire. Just the monotony of two-a-days, pretty much, because you practice, you get a nap, then waking up from that nap you feel pretty sluggish. You got to get that energy level back up again to do it all over.

KS: I’ve talked to players who’ve said it’s tough for them to just memorize their playbooks.
DS: Well, not really. I mean, I don’t buy that one. I don’t buy that one. It’s not that hard. Maybe quarterbacks but the playbook isn’t that hard. Football isn’t like it used to be when it was just show up to training camp. Now it’s the off-season and OTAs all year! So, if you can’t learn something and you’re constantly in a meeting room…and that’s the thing kids don’t understand about the professional ranks. You’re in a classroom on the field. You get the opportunity to learn more about the game than you do competing in the game. If you pay attention in the classroom that translates to the field.

KS: How much have you played this game?
DS: A bit. Not a lot. A bit.

KS: Do you feel like you get a good workout from this?
DS: Yeah, I mean, I was breathing hard early but I put in only four minutes.

KS: What drills have you done so far?
DS: I did the quarterback challenge, which I love. The timing of it all, trying to hit the receiver through the window. And the kicking drills, which was unbelievable for me. We have a black President but not a black kicker in the NFL. I’m trying to be the first, making a comeback.

KS: That’s your comeback?
DS: Yeah, even with a bad toe.

KS: You gonna be another Morton Anderson? What is he, 51, 52?
DS: 64. [Smiles] And then the running drills, stiff-arming. That winded me, that you have to run and get those knees up over the tires to make the jumps.

KS: Did you ever have a desire to be a quarterback or a kicker?
DS: Yeah, I was a quarterback all through high school. I had a choice to go to college as a defensive back or a wide receiver, never as a quarterback. But all my kids are quarterbacks, so I’m living vicariously through them as a quarterback now. My high school son is a quarterback and all the way through, so that’s what it is, man.

KS: I’m assuming your kids play video games. Is this game something you want them to play?
DS: Yeah, because they’re getting off the couch, man. I mean, the biggest criticism is kids are on the couch but this gets them up off their butts. It not only stimulates them physically but mentally and emotionally. They’re challenged. You can play individually but you can play competitively. All my kids are very competitive.

KS: With the drills you played so far, which one is most realistic?
DS: I like the quarterback challenge. I just like the accuracy throw. It is fun. Just trying to hit that window, you gotta have to time it.

KS: Did you play games growing up?
DS: Man, nah, growing up, man, I was Atari 5200, my man. And in college, I remember that. [Mentions the name of a Florida State teammate] He almost flunked out playing that Atari 5200, man.

KS: Did you ever envision this kind of game?
DS: No, no. These games are so darn life-like, it’s unbelievable, man. It really is. They do a great job of capturing everything.

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