Deion Sanders leaves NFL Network, joins Barstool Sports

Deion Sanders at ACU.jpg
Deion Sanders at ACU (KTXS)

WASHINGTON (SBG) — NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders played for five teams during the course of his football career. Now, the two-time Super Bowl champion is switching teams as a broadcaster.

Sanders announced Wednesday he was joining Barstool Sports, a popular online sports media company. The former cornerback will host a podcast known as "21 & Prime" with fellow ex-NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes, contribute video content including an NFL pregame show that competes with the traditional networks, and analyze football for 21 minutes every Sunday on the "Pardon My Take" podcast.

"I have not had this platform to give you all this stuff I've got in my head. Good lord, I get to get it out. I get to get all this stuff out," Sanders said in an interview with "Pardon My Take" announcing his transition. "You got to understand, when you're on a network show, you got a 15-second to 45-second shot clock, and 45 is a lot, to get out your thought and flesh it out. Now, I get to really exhaust my thought and tell you the unfiltered truth and speak my mind and call my friends to validate my point? Are you kidding me?"

Sanders says he also appreciates the fact he will get to reach younger fans between the ages of 18 to 35 — Barstool's core audience. He's previously tried to reach the audience through a reality show starring Sanders and his Florida Atlantic quarterback son Shedeur Sanders on YouTube channel Overtime while also boasting over 1 million followers on Twitter.

In a video announcement confirming the move, Sanders says he will continue to work with the NFL in some capacity but didn't specify exactly how. The 53-year-old was one of the NFL Network's original faces and served as an analyst for 14 years.

The New York Post reports Sanders left the network after he was asked to take a pay cut.

"Deion has been one of the key figures responsible for the growth of the NFL Network," said NFL VP of communications Alex Riethmiller. "We thank him for his work and wish him the best in the future."

Sanders' new employer and the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have butted heads over the years. Most recently, Barstool's founder Dave Portnoy won the chance to watch an NFL game alongside Goodell in a bidding competition for charity but was later denied the opportunity by the league because he didn't pass a background check.

Sanders will become one of the most high profile African American employees at a company which recently faced controversy after racially-insensitive remarks by the founder resurfaced. Videos from 2016 of Portnoy rapping the N-word and saying Colin Kaepernick looked like "an ISIS guy" went viral and even prompted one of the company's e-sports personalities to resign, according to the New York Daily News. Despite the criticism, Barstool has continued to grow after the recent launch of a sportsbook in Pennsylvania and a new gaming app that has rated high on app charts.

Earlier this year, Sanders hinted at a desire to be a college football coach in 2021 which means Wednesday's news might not be the only transition coming to the former cornerback's life.

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