Deion Sanders really, really wants you to call him "coach."
The Jackson State coach and NFL Hall of Famer infamously walked out of SWAC media day in July after a reporter didn't address him as "coach." Sanders didn't like that the reporter called him by his name instead of his job title and demanded that the reporter call him "coach." When the reporter refused, Sanders ended the interview.
Friday, Sanders was on ESPN's "First Take" and attempted to explain why he wants to be called "coach." He claimed that being called by the title was a matter of respect and — yes, we're being serious here — compared it to calling a doctor by his or her title.
Deion Sanders explains why he insists on being called "Coach":
"I've never stood for foolishness, so why would I stand for it now." pic.twitter.com/sKZ7khyigt
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 10, 2021
“My doctors are 'Dr. Such and Such,' the nurses are 'Nurse Such and Such,' our teachers are Missus and Mister,” Sanders said.
We don't need to tell you that a medical doctor goes to medical school to earn that title while a nurse must have his or her nursing degree. A title earned via education is a title different from one given to you because of the label of your job. You don't walk around your office addressing your co-workers by their job titles, do you?
Sanders also contradicts his own point with the teacher comparison anyway. The titles Mr., Ms., and Mrs. are not teacher-specific titles — something Sanders even points out earlier in the video above when he notes that parents of kids he grew up with were addressed with those titles. And besides, those titles were reserved for kids talking to adults. Not two adults addressing each other.
Unbelievably enough, Sanders went on to say that the reporter calling him by his own name was an attempt to "belittle" him.
"To just call someone by their name to try to belittle what I've accomplished and what I've worked for, that's just not right and I wasn't going to stand for it," Sanders said.
To be clear, it was not an attempt to belittle him. No one outside the Jackson State football team has an obligation to call Sanders "coach." Sanders likely knows this. Relationships between the coaches and the media can be power struggles sometimes. Sanders is making a clumsy power grab with his insistence on being called "coach."
That clumsiness may have a payoff, however. Ever since he got to Jackson State, Sanders has been focused on elevating the profile of historically Black colleges and universities that play football. And attention can be grabbed myriad ways. Sanders knows that too. And talking about his desire to be addressed a certain way is better than not talking about Jackson State or the SWAC at all.