Deion Sanders is the first long-time member of the Atlanta Falcons and the 13th long-time member of the Dallas Cowboys to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sanders scored his first touchdown in his first-ever NFL game. He returned a punt 68 yards for a TD against the Los Angeles Rams in his pro football debut on Sept. 10, 1989. His spectacular play came just five days after he hit a homerun for the New York Yankees in the fourth inning against Jerry Reed of the Seattle Mariners. In doing so, he became the only modern athlete to score a TD and hit a homerun in the same week.
Sanders is the only player in Super Bowl history to have both a reception and an interception in a Super Bowl.
His lone career sack occurred on Sept. 22, 1991 against the Los Angeles Raiders when he blitzed quarterback Jay Schroeder early in the game. His takedown forced the ball loose and was recovered and returned for an 18-yard touchdown by linebacker Jessie Tuggle. Atlanta won 21-17.
Sanders is the only player in history to have both a reception and an interception in a Super Bowl. He hauled in a 47-yard pass from quarterback Troy Aikman in the first quarter of the Dallas Cowboys 27-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. One year earlier, in the San Francisco 49ers 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX, he picked off Gale Gilbert in the fourth quarter and returned it 15 yards.
Deion’s election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame makes the 1989 NFL Draft one of the most star-studded drafts in NFL history with four of the first five picks now immortalized in bronze at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Famers from that year’s draft class and their draft selection are: Troy Aikman (1), Barry Sanders (3), Derrick Thomas (4), and Deion Sanders (5).
Sanders was not only a multi-threat athlete on the football field playing a verity of positions, he also was a duel-sport athlete playing nine seasons of Major League Baseball. During his 641-game career with the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants, Sanders logged a .263 batting average, stole 186 bases, batted in 168 runs and registered a .982 fielding percentage.
Deion recorded nine interception returns for touchdowns during his career. Interestingly, not one of them was shorter than 48 yards. In fact, he accumulated a total of 617 yards on those nine returns for a staggering 68.6-yard average. The yardage total equates to 43 percent of his career interception return yardage total (1,331).
"Next to the bible my favorite book was "The Little Engine That Could. I read that story so many times I know it by heart. ... That's what I modeled my career after. It sounds arrogant, it sounds brash, it sounds cocky, but it was real." - Deion Sanders
“Deion is the first player drafted by the Falcons to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and we are proud and excited for him. During his outstanding NFL career, which spanned 14 seasons and 188 NFL games, Deion was widely regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He epitomized excellence on the playing field and was a tremendously gifted athlete who possessed great vision, instincts, and world class speed. He was an electrifying performer who put fans on the edge of their seats every time he manned his cornerback position or dropped back to receive a kickoff or field a punt. Deion is, without question, one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL.” - Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons Owners
"Yeah, I think he's the best cornerback to ever play. I would definitely say that." - Charles Woodson
"You don't get to this level by not performing. A lot of guys play the game, but when you start looking at his performance and what he's been able to accomplish in the period of time that he played, you know he shut down one side of the football field. That says a lot about an athlete and a player. - Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back and Sanders' teammate from 1995-99
"He's the first shutdown corner ever. He introduced the concept." - Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback; Sanders' teammate in 1994
"Deion was one of the few guys that started playing defense but being offensive, meaning that every time there was an opportunity for him to not only touch the ball, that he could score. Very seldom do you find guys who play defense and want to be offensive. All of us want to be defense and be defensive. But very seldom do you find guys that have that ability to not only create turnovers but take it to the bank and deposit it. To me, that skill set, that mindset is really truly something that he set as a standard for a defensive back and became part of his DNA and became something that all defensive backs now try to do." - Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott
"I think Deion really did revolutionize the man-to-man football game of taking half the field away. What he did in essence was outrun the football. If you threw the ball his way, he would outrun the ball." - Ray Horton, former Cowboys safety; current Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator
"Deion Sanders was the best athlete I've ever coached in my life. He's the best athlete I've ever coached. He was amazing. The things he could do on a football field - even to this day I'm amazed by what he was able to do on a football field. He did so many things - defense, offense, kicking game. He was just overall the best athlete I ever coached." - Chan Gailey, former Cowboys head coach (1998-99); current Buffalo Bills head coach
"I think he inspired a lot of young guys that played cornerbacks. Just watching him and his knack for making big plays and the speed for which he played at, he was a guy that could do it all offensive and defensively. He definitely inspired a lot of young guys coming out to play cornerback." - Charles Woodson, 1997 Heisman Trophy winner; 13-year veteran cornerback
"Yeah, I think he's the best cornerback to ever play. I would definitely say that." - Charles Woodson.
"He was an amazing player. You always wanted to watch from the sidelines and see what he was doing. You didn't want to miss anything." - Flozell Adams, former Dallas Cowboys OT 1998-2009 and Sanders' teammate from 1998-99
"I think he could be, and you can make a good argument, the best to have played the position. I think it's noteworthy of the impact he made. At one time he had the most touchdowns per touching the ball of anybody in the National Football League. When he got his hands on it, if anybody could, he could take it to the house. I think that's pretty interesting and that's why we made him a receiver when he was here. That's why we started using him on punt returns when he was here as well, just because of his entire career." - Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner, president and general manager
"We played the position differently. He was a better athlete than I was. He didn't define the shutdown corner. If that was the case, then there's no (Dick) Night Train Lane, Lester Hayes, Mike Haynes . . . but I think he brought a style to the corner and a showmanship to the corner. That was never there before. It was refreshing to see. He had some coaches who said, 'yeah, you can play both ways.' I asked Chuck Noll to play offense and he told me to go practice defense and learn that. I think what Deion did was bring a different dimension of athletic ability to the corner spot. - Class of 2009 Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson, the other cornerback on the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s with Sanders