Apparently Deion Sanders isn’t a fan of being addressed by his own first name.
Sanders, the NFL Hall of Famer who is entering his second season as the head coach at Jackson State, walked out of a Southwestern Athletic Conference media day event on Tuesday after a reporter addressed him as “Deion” when asking a question.
Sanders, who seems to favor "Coach Prime," claimed that Alabama coach Nick Saban does not like being referred to by his first name, and that he should be treated the same as Saban. He later tweeted video of the full exchange, calling the controversy that ensured "minimal" and deeming the outlet, The Clarion Ledger, "FOOLISH" for its reporter Nick Suss' conduct.
The full exchange:
Suss: "Hey Deion, was just wondering if you could—"
Sanders: "Hold on, let's back up a little bit. You don't call Nick Saban 'Nick.' Don't call me Deion."
Suss: "I call Nick Saban 'Nick.'"
Sanders: "No you don't, that's a lie. If you call Nick 'Nick,' you know you’ll get cussed out on the spot, so don’t do that to me. Treat me like Nick."
Suss: "OK, Deion."
Sanders: "Alright. (walks out)"
While some reporters will address a coach as “coach,” many others will simply address them by their first name like any other human being. And that includes Saban. Sanders’ statement that Saban will cuss out a reporter that calls him “Nick” is simply untrue. Watch any Alabama news conference, or listen to the people who cover him, and you will know that not to be the case.
Suss explained as much, saying he has done it when covering previous Sanders news conferences, too.
"When I interview people, I call them by their first name," Suss said. "Whether it's someone I've been working with for years or someone I'm talking to for the first time. This is true of the coaches and players on the Ole Miss beat, the coaches and players at Mississippi State and Southern Miss when I help out covering their teams and, as recently as January, even Sanders, too."
Sanders later took to Twitter to offer his side of the story, before tweeting the entire exchange.
After the fall season was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson State played seven games during the spring and went 4-3. Sanders has attracted plenty of high-level talent to the program since taking over as head coach. That includes FBS transfers and some recruits who had scholarship offers from Power Five programs.
Jackson State opens its 2021 season against Florida A&M on Sept. 5.
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