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Deion Sanders Receives Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year Amidst Colorado Buffaloes’ Transformation

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In a remarkable feat, NFL legend Deion Sanders, at 56, has been honored as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year. Sanders, now the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, orchestrated a stunning turnaround for the team, converting them from a struggling 1-11 season to a unit that sold out every home game in 2023.

The Buffaloes surprised many by kicking off the season with a 3-0 start, capturing the attention of football enthusiasts. Despite a setback with a loss to Oregon on September 23, the game drew in an impressive 10 million viewers, marking it as the most-watched of the season within the first 11 weeks. Notably, Colorado secured five spots among the 13 most-watched games of the season.

Sports Illustrated attributes the surge in interest not only to celebrity attendance but also to what they term the “Prime Effect,” signifying the transformative impact Sanders had on the city. Annett James, president of the Boulder County branch of the NAACP, expressed, “I think he’s the best thing that’s happened to Boulder since I’ve lived here, by far”.

Sanders’ influence was evident in the community’s increased diversity at events. James recounted an experience at a bar before a home game, saying, “There’s like 30 Black people. My friend said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve never seen that many Black people at a bar in Boulder!’ We started talking to people, and there were some who said they came here from Atlanta for Prime”.

However, the Buffaloes’ season concluded on a disappointing note with a 23-17 loss to Utah. Compounding the challenges, high school running back Jamarice Wilder decommitted from the team, along with the loss of top recruit quarterback Antwann Hill Jr., class of 2025, and 2024 QB Danny O’Neil, who abandoned the Buffaloes in the past week.

Sanders, frustrated with the trend of high school recruits changing commitments, called on the NCAA to intervene. He remarked, “A kid ain’t even faithful to his girlfriend. You think he’s gonna be faithful to a school? Come on man. That’s an emotional thing”.

Written by
Derek Chan – Editor

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