Deion Sanders has enjoyed an abundance of success in his lifetime. First as an All-American football player in college, then as a Pro Football Hall of Famer, pro baseball player, and NFL Network analyst.
In September 2020, he embarked on a new journey, as he accepted the head coaching position at Jackson State University. With his first season marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanders had to wait until the fall of 2021 to show out. And he achieved beyond most people’s imagination on the field and within the culture of HBCU football, but that success didn’t come without a price.
One of the scariest moments in the life of a fearless competitor.
Deion Sanders Hospitalized, Per Report. Last month, Deion Sanders had foot surgery and was advised to remain off the sidelines in Jackson State's win against Bethune-Cookman. Sanders' condition is serious, but no details have been released specifying his health issues.😬🙏 pic.twitter.com/FPPcJJgMUJ
— Sumner (@renmusb1) October 31, 2021
Following surgery for a dislocated toe, Sanders reveals that he had a major setback, which in turn caused him to lose two toes. It was reported that he could’ve lost his leg.
In his Barstool Sports docuseries, “Coach Prime” he gives us an inside look at those tense moments, during a three-week long hospital stay. Which caused him to miss three games while he battled for his life and leg.
— FootballScoop (@FootballScoop) November 2, 2021
“The hardest thing of it all, was to look down there,” Sanders said. “And see that and understand once upon a time, you was this type of athlete. And you don’t even know if you’re gonna walk again, because all you feel is pain.”
"The hardest part was to look down there and see it… knowing I might never walk again." –@DeionSanders
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) March 8, 2022
Sanders Developed Life-Threatening Blood Clots Following The First Surgery
Following his initial surgery in September for the toe and inflamed nerve, doctors told Sanders to stay off his feet. Sanders didn’t oblige, using a variety of transportation to get around while still leading his football team.
When it was revealed that he needed a second surgery, that’s when the life-threatening blood clots were also revealed. Sanders also suffered drastic weight loss. His mom told him it was a condition that ran in the family and was nothing to take lightly. The possibility of losing any limb is grim, but the thought of losing a toe or leg — especially for a former premier athlete who still uses them to coach up-and-coming future pros — had to be devastating.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) March 2, 2022
“They were first talking about amputation of toes, then the amputation of my leg from knee down, and then they are trying to ensure that I had life.”
Sanders Road To Recovery: He’s Close To Being Back
Following his three-week hospital stay, Sanders returned to the sidelines for JSU’s game at Southern. Although not at full coaching capacity, his mere presence did wonders for his team as they clinched the SWAC East title. Shedeur tossed a 50-yard game-winning touchdown and his other son Shilo capped the win with a game-clinching interception.
He shared an embrace with Shedeur following the win.
I’m so proud of our young men for tonight’s comeback win @GoJSUTigersFB. This was right after @ShedeurSanders threw the game winning touchdown to @mightymal13 with under 2 minutes left. I love y’all and I BELIEVE! pic.twitter.com/us09scVfnC
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) November 14, 2021
In a postgame interview Sanders talked about his battle to just be there:
“It’s a wheelchair right here and I’m in that chair, nevertheless I say Lord I thank you. I can’t walk on my own and people have to help me get in and out of everything, but I say, Lord, I thank you. It’s hard to even make it to the bathroom without the assistance of others.
“It’s been a long journey, I am on the road back. But I am here and I am thankful.”
Shedeur Sanders says it was a trying time for the family and JSU football as a whole.
Despite the medical scare, Sanders guided the Tigers to their first SWAC title since 2007. He was also named the Eddie Robinson Award winner, given annually to the top coach in FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). He brought a fervor and exuberance back to Black College Football, not to mention increased visibility, exposure and revenue.
In the end, Sanders’ incredible season was bittersweet. We knew he was battling some serious issues, but nobody said a word or spoke to the severity of the injury. Knowing that Sanders accomplished all that he did with grace and down two toes only adds to the legend of the HBCU king.
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