The simplest, most enlightening way to consider how America is experiencing Deion Sanders in this incredible start to his tenure at Colorado is that he is without a doubt the most renowned person to ever coach college football.
That may appear clear. However, fame is one of those occurrences in which the degree of fame is really important. Nick Saban, for example,
is famous in such a way that any fan of college football, and perhaps the majority of people who watch sports in general, would recognize him immediately (he seemed to experience this in Italy over the summer,
where he thought he could go incognito until he realized that football fans take overseas summer vacations as well).
But Sanders' celebrity is unlike anyone else's since he has been a part of mainstream popular culture for 35 years in ways that extend beyond his professional athletic career.
In the early 1990s, you saw him in commercials for Pizza Hut, Pepsi, and Nike. He appeared in rap videos. He has presided over a Miss USA pageant. In 2008, he starred in his first reality show.
He's been in our life in some form or another for a very long time. Based simply on that star power, we could have predicted some of the numbers we're seeing from Colorado football.
On Tuesday, ESPN reported that Colorado's double-overtime victory over Colorado State drew 11.1 million people, a truly astonishing figure given that the game began after 10 p.m. on the East Coast,
a time slot when network executives would normally be doing cartwheels just to pull a couple million.
And this wasn't even Texas-Alabama, which performed well the previous week but not as good as Colorado-Colorado State. The Deion brand may be greater than the sport itself.
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