Deion Sanders celebrates birthday by answering questions
Jackson State University football coach Deion Sanders addressed questions during a panel discussion at Prime Time Takeover, a part of Sanders’ birthday celebration.
Barbara Gauntt, Mississippi Clarion Ledger
The two never met personally during their playing days. Nor played against each other’s teams when Deion Sanders was with Dallas Cowboys, or after Mike Minter was drafted in 1997 by the Carolina Panthers.
Minter said he went about his business as a player. If a player was not a teammate, he might not have known the player he was facing. When Sanders became the coach at Jackson State, Minter told his athletic director he wanted to schedule a game against Sanders. Campbell’s athletic director, Bob Roller, and Jackson State’s athletic director, Ashley Robinson, spoke about scheduling a game. Finally, Minter talked with Sanders on the phone and sealed the deal.
For Minter, the game against Jackson State and Sanders is not personal. It is about competition, respect, brotherhood and the NFL shield.
“The brotherhood means everything,” Minter said. “We know what it takes to get to that level. So, we have respect for one another even though we might not know each other like that. We know what each other stands for because of what we were able to do.”
Minter said, and then you have different levels within being a professional athlete. You have the upper room … where Deion (Sanders) is at. The upper room is being in the Hall of Fame. He noted that when you are one of the greatest to ever play, there is a lot of respect that comes with that as well.
Minter said he is looked at on a different level because he played in the league and played his entire career with one team ‒ the Carolina Panthers. He was able to put in work and be respected by the team that drafted him. He said all of those things lead to love, respect and honor.
Former fellow teammate and Pro Football Hall of Famer Sam Mills helped mentor Minter into being a professional. Not some of the time, but every day on the field and off. They talked about how to take care of his body and treat his teammates and the personnel inside the building, as well as how to play the game and live as a professional athlete everywhere he went.
“There are no such things as being a professional on the field,” Minter said. “I teach my guys you have to be intentional in everything that you do. There is no such thing as being a pro on the field, it is in everything you do and where you go.”
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An All-American at Nebraska, Minter hopes that he does not lose to Sanders again as he did to Sander’s alma mater Florida State in the 1994 Federal Express Orange Bowl national championship game, 18-16.
Minter and the Cornhuskers could not stop Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Charlie Ward, who led his team into field goal range when Scott Bentley kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:16 remaining for the win.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Minter said. “What that taught me was the sacrifice you must make in order to be a champion. They are not giving championship trophies out to anybody, so you have to be willing to sacrifice things to be a champion.”
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Minter welcomes coming into the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium atmosphere with 65,000 fans. He said he has played in front of 100,000 fans before, but never in front of an all-African American fan base.
He noted most of his players are African American and have not experienced an HBCU halftime homecoming. He wants them to come out at halftime and watch JSU’s band, “The Sonic Boom of the South.”
Minter said he’s happy to be a part of JSU’s homecoming. There is nothing but love and respect going into the week and after the game. Minter said it is nothing personal with Sanders, but an arena to compete, have fun, and put on a show. Minter wants to see what it looks like to be a part of an African American celebration.
“I get a chance to do that” Minter said. “That’s why I am coming. I wanted to watch the band at halftime. This is going to be fun to watch.”
Minter feels there is more than one way to help African Americans be successful in life. His goals are to unlock a person’s greatness.
“My goal is to teach people,” Minter said, “whether it is my coaching staff, support staff, or my players on how to become what they were put here on this earth to do.”
“No matter who wins,” Minter said, “coach Sanders is the greatest promoter of all time. He changed the game; he made more money for defensive backs in the NFL when he played. And he was social media before there was social media, and that was in the ‘90s. I love it and him, and I am happy to be a part of this game. There is nothing but love from me to him.”
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