Style

The hair, the jewelry, the gear — and the swag he rocked it with: Deion Sanders, icon of prime-time style

A hero of more than just football and baseball, Sanders brought legendary looks everywhere he went

Deion’s Double Play premieres Thursday night, and the documentary focuses largely on the events of Oct. 11, 1992. On that day, Deion Sanders, appropriately nicknamed “Prime Time,” played in a regular-season game for the Atlanta Falcons vs. the Miami Dolphins and hours later suited up for the Atlanta Braves (but didn’t play) in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series vs. Barry Bonds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sanders’ teams lost both games, but the moment is emblazoned in history because of his defiance and willingness to push the boundaries of what a professional athlete can do.

But there’s another legendary side of Prime Time. He is, after all, the man who said, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” Sanders is so much recalled for his wildly distinctive style that last year, LeBron James dedicated his “Red Diamond Turf” 15s to the swaggy style of young Deion. The following photos represent but a sliver of Sanders’ impeccable style. Sanders’ been coming through drippin’ before Cardi B was even born. Don’t believe me? Just follow along as we stroll the legend’s memory lane.


David Banks/Associated Press

Jheri curl dripping with Coming to America “Soul Glo”? Check. Fly windbreaker? No doubt. Shades that probably cost more than his entire stipend at Florida State? For sure. But the picture just screams one rap lyric, and once I tell it to you, you’ll never be able to unsee or unhear it. I wear every single chain even when I’m in the house. (Also, salute to the OG Andrea Kremer.)

AP Photo/Chaz Pall

Long live the multicolored outfits of the ’90s. Nothing quite like that era. Of course Sanders pulls it off effortlessly — and don’t sleep on the Louis Vuitton bag either.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

This man was everywhere. That’s Prime Time all Nike’d out with the hoop earrings to match at San Francisco radio station KMEL’s legendary Summer Jam 1994. As for who was in attendance? Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Domino, Patti LaBelle, Flavor Flav and Blackstreet, among others.

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Couldn’t tell Sanders anything in this pic. Not one thing. The 1988 Jim Thorpe Award winner, though, might have had the third-coldest Jheri curl that year. Yes, he ranks higher than Darryl Jenks, aka actor Eriq La Salle, from Coming to America. But it’d be hard to put even Sanders higher than Eazy-E and Ice Cube, whose Straight Outta Compton proved to be the landmark pop cultural moment in a year full of them.

Al Bello /Allsport

Try to find three colder nicknames than “Prime Time.” Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Photo by Gin Ellis/Getty Images

These days, people look at you funny for wearing a jersey of one sport and a hat of another sport. But you know what’s so dope about this pic? Sanders plays for both teams he’s wearing, the Atlanta Falcons and Braves. That’s what you call bossing up. (Also, is it me or does Prime look like he’s about to channel his inner Clay Davis?)

PAUL K. BUCK/AFP/Getty Images

Fam, Sanders had a custom Mercedes-Benz golf cart to take him around Dallas Cowboys training camp in 1996. Swag god.

Photo by Neil Schneider/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images

Not much diversity in this picture, huh? And he’s still stylin’ on ’em, gloves and all.

Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Because who else would be decked out in the double-breasted platinum suit with the top hat and shades going to the A Thin Line Between Love and Hate premiere in Hollywood other than Deion Lin Sanders Sr.?

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

When you really think about it, like really give it some serious thought, Sanders and Tupac changed the bandanna game forever.

Photo from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If anyone is selling this custom-made Prime Time windbreaker, be a kind soul and forward that my way. Please and thank you.

AP Photo/Doug Mills

C’mon, now. The mink coat with shades and high-top fade with the wet set in? You gotta relax, Prime!

AP Photo/Joseph R. Villarin

If a photo of Deion Sanders and MC Hammer doesn’t scream 1990s — then, quite frankly, I’m at a loss for words as to what fits the bill.

BONUS VIDEOS:

https://youtu.be/dcZ_yL6GOGE

Peep this incredible 16-month run Sanders amassed. Signed with the 49ers in September ’94. Returned to Atlanta in October ’94 and helped demolish his former team 42-3. Drops Prime Time in December ’94. Won Super Bowl XXIX with the 49ers over the San Diego Chargers. Hosted Saturday Night Live in February ’95 — when, despite Bon Jovi being the episode’s musical guest, he also performed several songs from his album, including the single “Must Be the Money.” Signed with the Dallas Cowboys in September 1995. Won Super Bowl XXX with the Cowboys over the Pittsburgh Steelers in January ’96.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaDDV-daUdA

Sanders permeated all levels of pop culture. For instance, his “Must Be the Money” video. Several years later, Jamie Foxx revealed that it was hanging out with Sanders that inspired the classic character of Willie Beamen (and this ridiculous music video) in 1999’s Any Given Sunday. “I got the flamboyance from [Sanders],” Foxx told Newsweek in 2000.

Liner Notes

30 for 30: Deion’s Double Play is on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Justin Tinsley is a culture and sports writer for The Undefeated. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single-most impactful statement of his generation.