I rather like that Deion has returned to the NFL. He has nothing to prove, having earned his Super Bowl rings and established himself as one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time. But seeing the picture of him standing and laughing with Ray Lewis makes me think that this is a guy who doesn’t really care if he’s a nickel back or a starter, doesn’t really care if he earns a dime this year, that more than anything it’s just a case of a guy who loves the game and the camaraderie and wants to experience it one more time before he has to hang it up for good.
Or maybe I’m projecting. I spend most of my soccer days coaching now, but I can’t tell you how good it feels when I get a call from one of my friends, telling me that there’s a game in two weeks and they could use a wing who can get up and down the right side. I treasure every moment when I’m on that field, because I know there won’t be many more times that I’ll be playing at that level.
Deion’s comeback isn’t like the ill-fated returns of Michael Jordan (the last one) or Magic Johnson. It isn’t like the ugly, embarrassing refusals to gracefully step aside when the moment is right, as was the case with Johnny Unitas and Emmitt Smith. Deion is a unique talent, but for all his theatrics, he’s always been a team player on the field, willing to subordinate his massive ego for the good of the team. I think it’s interesting that despite how many people loathed from the start, I’ve never heard any of his teammates say a bad word about him.
Okay, perhaps Andre Rison, but then, when has Andre Rison had a good word to say about anyone?