Why Deion Sanders’ success in Colorado matters so much to Black fans


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By Curtis Bunn, NBC

Even after losses, Deion Sanders, football coach at  University of Colorado, offers representation and connection for the school and the team. (Hannah Mattix/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)

Deion Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes did not make it to Pac 12 championship on Friday; they lost their last six games. Sanders’ star quarterback, his son Shedeur Sanders, did not finish the season because of an injury. Three top recruits decommitted from joining the program. A coach quit and at least one player entered the transfer portal.

So why is Boulder, Colorado’s notoriously thin air thick with optimism? And why did Sanders become such an enormous deal in the first place?

The answers are many and they are all about Sanders, 56, an all-time NFL great whose confluence of audacity, tenderness and introspection — played out to millions on social media — inspired a legion of followers, countless of them with faint interest in college football until he took over in Boulder. His influence has been so palpable this season that Sports Illustrated named him “Sportsperson of the Year” on Thursday, a nod to his impact beyond the games, as the end of the season did not match the beginning.

Despite all that did not go right in his first season after controversially leaving Jackson State University, a historically Black school, Black fans in particular have rallied around “Coach Prime.” He high-stepped into Boulder, a city with a population of just 1.3% Black people, reinvigorated a downtrodden fan base and built a national coalition of support.

Keep reading to learn how Colorado students and alums responded.

Sanders also recognizes the benefits of HBCUs.

More breaking news.

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