words // Nick Engvall
This weekend two-sport star and cultural icon, Deion Sanders, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. So, naturally, this week’s Eastbay Memory Lane is dedicated to “Neon Deion.” As one of the greatest showmen to ever play the game of football, and one of the only players to find success in both professional baseball and professional football, “Prime Time” redefined showboating. Had the term ‘swag’ been a part of pop culture back then, Deion’s smiling face would have sat appropriately and happily, next to it in the dictionary.
For many people, Deion was too flashy and too arrogant for fans of the opposing team, but his performance was too good to not be respected and amazed, whether you fell on either side of the love versus hate coin. Neon Deion’s off the field antics were as loud and boisterous as his prancing around defenders on the football field. For the most part, he was always right track, well, except for that music career thing.
Deion’s dual-sport footwear left the same type of mark on sneaker culture as he did on the game of football. With iconic shoes like the Diamond Turf line from Nike, his training shoes rival the signature models of any other athlete. Then there were shoes like the Air 24 Diamond baseball cleats and the Air 21 Turf football cleats that carried Sanders’ goalpost and home plate logo and jersey number. With as many memorable kicks as Deion, and as many unbelievable plays, it leaves just one question.
Would Deion’s sneakers or his on-field performance be more Hall of Fame worthy?