The Celebration Bowl, which matches teams from historically Black colleges, was in the spotlight Saturday.
The game marked Hall of Famer Deion Sanders’ final game as the head coach of Jackson State University.
“Not tomorrow, now. Not the next day, now. … We started together, lets end together,” a teary Sanders, also known as “Coach Prime,” said as he addressed his players in the locker room.
The NFL legend took over as head coach of Jackson State and immediately put the university on the map, drawing national attention and even visits from ESPN’s College GameDay.
“When I say ‘Now,’ all ya’ll say ‘Give me my theme music,’” Sanders instructed the team to close his speech.
“Now,” Sanders said.
“Give me my theme music,” the players shouted in the locker room as Sanders stepped down from a bench and put on his trademark sunglasses.
After the regular season came to an end, Sanders decided to accept the head coaching job at the University of Colorado. Sanders has faced backlash about his decision to end his run at Jackson State.
The day before the Celebration Bowl kicked off, Sanders attempted to set the record straight about taking a different job.
“Never once did I say they’re gonna put a tombstone with my name on it at Jackson State. So I wasn’t gonna die here. Y’all know that,” he said.
But Sanders will be joined in Boulder by some familiar faces. His son, Shedeur Sanders, will transfer to Colorado and become the team’s starting quarterback. Travis Hunter, a top-ranked recruit at Jackson State, is expected to join Sanders in Colorado.
The two-time Super Bowl winner’s impact on an HBCU program is hard to understate. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is paying attention to what Sanders has brought to the campus. Goodell attended the Celebration Bowl to watch and support his nephew Charlton Goodell, a defensive lineman who plays for Sanders.
Cameras captured the commish and the Tigers defensive lineman speaking and embracing on the sideline.
Although Sanders is leaving, he certainly could not resist one last chance to motivate his team before a big game.