Deion Sanders won his college head coaching debut on Sunday as Jackson State trounced Edward Waters of the NAIA level 53-0. But the game was quickly overshadowed by confusion over whether Sanders was robbed during the game, and it turned out he was not even though he was convinced otherwise immediately after the game.
Sanders ranted to reporters in his postgame press conference about someone he believed stole his belongings out of the coaches office during the game, alleging his credit card, wallet, watches and phone were all taken. He used the incident to illustrate how “when I talk about quality and raising the standards, that goes for everyone, man, not just the people on the field, not just the coaches, not just the teachers, not just the faculty. But that’s everybody. Security and everybody.”
News of the allegation spread quickly, and Sanders claimed it was the second time he’s been robbed since taking the FCS job in Jackson, Mississippi. Within an hour of Sanders’ long-winded rant about the matter, however, Jackson State officials told Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger that his belongings were not stolen and had only been misplaced after being moved for safekeeping. Noah Newman of WJTV in Jackson reported that all of Sanders’ stuff was found in his locker/office.
The bizarre incident capped off the beginning to what figures to be a fascinating tenure for Sanders at the HBCU which competes in the SWAC of the FCS level. The FCS season moved to the spring this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Tigers are scheduled to play a seven-game regular season slate. Sanders, who has drawn attention to the Jackson State program with his status as a former NFL and MLB superstar, will need to put Sunday’s misunderstanding behind him quickly. The Tigers are set to host in-state rival Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, and it should be a much tougher game than Sunday’s romp against an overmatched foe from one of the sport’s lowest tiers.
“How do you think it feels?” Sanders said before the incident was resolved. “Coming back after just teary-eyed because the guys presented me with the game ball. One of the best moments I’ve ever had in my professional sports career emotionally. Then you go into your locker room and your coaches office … and you notice that you don’t even have a phone to call your momma, to call your girl, to call your kids because it’s been stolen.”
Sanders eventually said “let’s flush that” and began to talk about the game. But before that, he made clear that “we’re going to find out who did it.” Iff Sanders wanted more attention on the beginning of his rebuilding job at Jackson State, Sunday’s bizarre postgame mixup certainly brought some, and he left the incident with some element of mystery still surrounding it by posting the following to Twitter on Sunday night.