Deion Sanders has been named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year — and some people think that’s bull junk (to use one of Coach Prime’s signature phrases).
Stephen Curry received the honor last year after leading the Golden State Warriors to the NBA title for the fourth time.
Tom Brady got the nod in 2021 after his seventh Super Bowl victory.
Megan Rapinoe was the 2019 honoree after leading the U.S. women to World Cup gold a second time.
Sanders, who was announced as the latest recipient of the iconic award Thursday, led Colorado to a 4-8 record in his first season in charge. In 2022, the program went 1-11.
The Buffaloes got off to an electric 3-0 start, beating Texas Christian, Nebraska and Colorado State, and they were 4-2 after beating Arizona State on Oct. 7. It turned out to be Colorado’s lone Pac-12 Conference victory.
The bottom fell out after that win, with Coach Prime and company losing their final six games. The Buffaloes finished 1-8 in conference play.
That has led to some on social media to criticize Sports Illustrated for bestowing such an honor on Sanders. The Times reached out to Sports Illustrated editor in chief Stephen Cannella for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
An article published Thursday by the magazine lays out some of the reasoning behind the decision, with writer Pat Forde discussing the effect Sanders has had within the program, on campus, in Boulder and throughout college football in just one season with the team.
According to the article, applications for admission to the university have increased substantially, as have sales at the school’s online team store. Every home game at Folsom Field was a sellout this season for the first time in school history. The Buffaloes played in five of the 13 most-watched college football games of the first 11 weeks of the season.
And all of that is just the beginning of what made Sanders the ideal choice for the honor, Forde writes.
“The numbers are huge and paint a vivid portrait of renewal — but they don’t fully explain why Sanders is our 2023 Sportsperson of the Year,” the article states. “The human stories run deeper, and not just the celebrities and athletes flocking to the sidelines of games, but also the grassroots stories as the Prime Effect transcends sports and ripples outward through the culture.”