There are good points in those arguments, but it could’t be forgotten that Sanders successfully turned around Jackson State football, returning the team to a form resembling its old glory and lifting, albeit briefly, the varsity’s public profile. He will probably be on the sidelines for one last game as his undefeated team plays one other H.B.C.U., North Carolina Central, in Atlanta’s Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17.
It was at all times going to be near unimaginable to maintain Sanders at Jackson State if he consistently won. Everyone involved knew the deal, and Sanders talked openly about listening to other offers. This week, the varsity has thanked him profusely for his short-tenured run. Sanders is who he has at all times been: a sports mercenary with a carnival barker’s bearing, a roadside preacher’s panache and a talent for winning.
“Often when God sends me to a spot, he sends me to be a conduit of change,” he said during an introductory news conference/sermon.
I mourn for our H.B.C.U.s. They’ve been chronically underfunded since their inception within the late 1800s, deprived of proper resources from state legislatures and the federal government as an increasing number of money pours into majority white schools. The project of upper education at Black colleges stays stuck in what seems like an extended and unalterable grind for survival. The struggling sports teams at H.B.C.U.s are definitely a part of that grind.
Amongst Black folks, lots of us desired to consider Sanders would stick around for longer than this, and now are left with a very painful hurt since the Black community so often finds itself on the outskirts, so often feels abandoned by daring guarantees.
Sanders’s jump to a wealthy, white school after promising the world to his young Black athletes and their families is one more reminder that Black people, specifically, have at all times needed to take assurances with a healthy grain of skeptical apprehension — even after they come from people in our communities.
In hindsight, what made any of us think a former player with the status and ego of Prime Time would stay for greater than a trickle of seasons? Nothing in Sanders’s past suggested such constancy. Sanders played on 4 teams in nine seasons as an outfielder in Major League Baseball. During his Hall of Fame N.F.L. profession, he played for five teams in 14 seasons. Sanders won a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers after which one other with the 49ers’ hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys. Before accepting the Jackson State job, he had left the NFL Network for Barstool Sports.