Deion Sanders: HBCU players ‘neglected and rejected’ in NFL draft

"I witnessed a multitude of kids that we played against that were more than qualified to be drafted," Deion Sanders exclaimed.

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Deion Sanders, coach of the  Jackson State football team and NFL Hall of Famer, expressed his disappointment in zero players from historically Black colleges and universities being selected in the 2021 NFL draft.

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The sports professional recently took to social media to share his disappointment in the draft neglecting HBCU athletic talent.

“And we have the Audacity to Hate on one another while our kids are being NEGLECTED & REJECTED,” he began. “I witnessed a multitude of kids that we played against that were more than qualified to be drafted.”

Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders of the NLF 100 All-Time Team is honored on the field prior to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

He continued to share his hope for future draft processes including HBCU football players.

“My prayers are that This won’t EVER happen again. Get yo knife out my back and fight with me not against me!”

The hashtags #CHANGE and #Truth were added to the post and several media outlets were tagged.

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Sanders is not alone in his hope that more HBCU talent becomes visible to professional sports programs. The Washington Post reported Doug Williams, Grambling alum and the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, also expressed his disapproval of zero HBCU football players being selected.

“It’s hard to believe that not one guy is worthy of being drafted,” he said. Williams currently works as a senior adviser for the Washington Football Team. “That, to me, that’s a travesty. Hopefully we can fix it.”

Grambling Coach Broderick Fobbs believed the coronavirus pandemic impacted the HBCU football programs.

“I think that [the pandemic] played a huge role in the lack of players represented from our conference and also from HBCU football,” he said to the Post. “There’s plenty of guys who have the ability to be drafted and should have been drafted. But I think when it boils down to it, these teams were not able to do as thorough a search as they normally are. … But yes, it is a little bit of a disappointment. I don’t think it’s anything personal. People are trying to fill their rosters with the best players that they can and also with no-brainers. The pandemic played a huge role in eliminating a lot of those diamonds in the rough.”

Doug Williams
Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field on December 08, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

According to the Post, a handful of HBCU athletes signed free agent contracts after the draft: Grambling tackle David Moore (Carolina Panthers), Florida A&M University tackle Calvin Ashley (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), North Carolina A&T cornerback Mac McCain (Denver Broncos), and North Carolina Central University cornerback Bryan Mills (Seattle Seahawks)

In a valiant effort to create the change, Williams has helped to initiate the HBCU Legacy Bowl to boost the exposure of HBCU athletes to the NFL. theGrio reported the league has partnered with the  Black College Football Hall of Fame, of which Williams is a trustee, to establish the inaugrual game which will take place in the spring of 2022.

The game will be played the first Saturday after Super Bowl LVI at Tulane University’s Yulman Stadium. The NFL Network will broadcast the game live. The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Tulane University is also partnering in the effort. The Legacy Bowl will be the last event in a celebratory week of HBCU and Black culture, according to a press release. Over 100 HBCU players are expected to be invited to participate in the Legacy Bowl.

“HBCUs are a bridge to equality,” said BCHS co-founder and inductee James “Shack” Harris. “We thank the NFL for their support and in sharing our commitment to lifting up others.”’

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