Deion Sanders typed into Twitter his opinion about athletes opting out of sports around the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic and hit send, somehow thinking it would resonate with his 1.1 million followers.
He must not have realized how it sounded for an NFL employee to call out players for being worried enough about their health and the health of their families to not play the game they love. His perspective that individuals don’t matter in sports is strange considering he made his name as “Prime Time” and “Neon Deion” — an infamously individualistic character who thrived in his own spotlight and added irreplaceable flair to the field.
“All Players OPTING out in all sports PLEASE BELIEVE the game will go on without u,” Sanders wrote. “This is a business & don’t u EVER forget that. There’s NO ONE that’s bigger than the game itself. Only the ref,umps & officials are that important that u can’t play without them. NOT YOU! #Truth”
All Players OPTING out in all sports PLEASE BELIEVE the game will go on without u. This is a business & don’t u EVER forget that. There’s NO ONE that’s bigger than the game itself. Only the ref,umps & officials are that important that u can’t play without them. NOT YOU! #Truth
— Deion Sanders (@DeionSanders) August 7, 2020
MORE: List of NFL opt-outs
A wave of NFL opt-outs has been announced over the past week, which likely prompted Sanders’ comment. He works as a pundit for the league-owned NFL Network. Packers receiver Devin Funchess, Patriots safety Patrick Chung and Giants tackle Nate Solder are among those who won’t play in 2020 because of the pandemic.
People on Twitter, including players, piled on to let Sanders know what they thought of his take:
What a clueless statement. They’re not opting out because they think they’re “bigger than the game itself” – they’re opting out because they don’t want to sacrifice their health and safety and that of their family. Can’t play if your dead or debilitatingly ill.
— Ryan J. Neel (@Ryzer71) August 7, 2020
They played a month with replacement officials … And yes, the NFL will continue on and I’m sure the players opting out understand someone could take their roster spot in their absence. But they value their health this season over the chance of being replaced in 2021 https://t.co/QsfVZSSVdC
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) August 7, 2020