Most people play at least a couple of sports growing up, but anyone who’s good enough to play at the college level will usually pick one by the time they graduate. Managing to balance two jobs as a professional athlete is basically unheard of, but Deion Sanders was not only able to do exactly that but once tried to play in two games on the same day.
The list of athletes who’ve pulled off what the man known as “Prime Time” was able to achieve is pretty small. Notable names including Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Kyler Murray were all drafted by MLB teams, but Sanders and Bo Jackson are the only NFL players since the 1950s who simultaneously played in both leagues.
Sanders is obviously best known for what he achieved on the gridiron after the Falcons selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, as the eight-time Pro Bowler spent 14 seasons in the league when everything was said and done. However, he also hung around for nine years in the MLB after the Yankees secured his signing rights in the draft in 1988.
In 1991, Sanders inked a deal with the Braves (who undoubtedly took advantage of the fact he was already playing for another team in Atlanta), and the following year, the guy who’d already become the first person to hit a home run for an MLB team and score a touchdown for an NFL squad in the same week hatched a plan to outdo himself with another unprecedented feat.
Deion Sanders came so close to playing in an MLB and NFL game on the same day
Prior to 1992, the Braves and the Falcons both played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, but the latter had set up shop at the Georgia Dome ahead of the start of that year’s NFL season.
It took around 30 minutes to walk between those two venues, so while you may think Sanders was able to take advantage of their close proximity while trying to play in two games on the same day, that wasn’t in the cards when he set out to achieve that goal on October 11, 1992.
On that day, the Falcons were set to face off against the Dolphins in a Week 6 afternoon matchup in Miami, while the Braves were slated to take on the Pirates in Pittsburgh for Game 5 of the NLCS. As a result, there were plenty of logistics to work out, but Sanders was determined to make it work.
Here’s how things went down.
The story really starts on October 10th, as Sanders had already headed to Pittsburgh to play for the Braves in Game 4 that night. After Atlanta secured the 6-4 victory to take a 3-1 lead, Sanders hopped on the private jet that got him to Miami around 4 A.M. before getting some sleep and joining his teammates at what is now known as Hard Rock Stadium at 11 A.M.
The game started at 1 P.M., and Sanders recorded a few tackles and brought a couple of kick returns back for a total of 42 yards in his side’s 21-17 loss to the Dolphins.
The contest wrapped up at around 4 P.M., and after running to the locker room to get his stuff, he hopped into the helicopter he used to avoid traffic and get to the airport where a private jet was waiting to take him to Pittsburgh. After landing in Steel City, he arrived at Three Rivers Stadium at 7:05 P.M. around an hour before the first pitch.
While Sanders was suited up and ready to play, he never actually got the chance to enter the game (which the Pirates ended up winning 7-1). In an interview where he reflected on the day in question, he made it pretty clear he was less than thrilled with the snub while stating he was more than ready to take the field despite playing in an NFL game less than five hours before.
What a whirlwind of a day for Prime Time here. By now, we all know just how competitive he is, and it’s clear he was crushed to not have the chance to add another achievement to his already impressive résumé.
I can barely make two meetings in New York City on the same day, so the fact that Sanders came about as close as you can to playing for two pro sports teams in less than 12 hours is wildly impressive.