Commentary: Cowboys Hall of Famer Deion Sanders gives Canton tornado victims a "successful" day

Published on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 18:32 - Written by CHRIS PARRY, cparry@tylerpaper.com

 

Every day is successful.

Those were the words adorning Dallas Cowboys Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders’ T-Shirt.

He certainly made June 20, 2017, a successful day for many people.

Sanders traveled to Tyler to lead a shopping spree bright and early Tuesday morning at Sam’s Wholesale Club. The event was sponsored by RetailMeNot, a leading Austin-based saving destination.

RetailMeNot challenged Sanders to collect up to $10,000 in merchandise in two minutes or less. The items collected were to benefit the Salvation Army to provide relief for victims of the recent tornadoes that hit Canton and Van Zandt County.

“It’s a blessing and I brought my sons here (with me) to allow them to understand that giving is everything,” Sanders said. “We would rather give than receive … for the victims who were devastated, I mean, (the tornado) barely missed us. We are in Canton quite a bit and it barely misses us. We understand that there is a need, and if we are blessed enough to meet the need, why not?”

Sanders first began discussing the tornado and what it had done during a national television appearance on “The View.”

He wasn’t just talking about a news report either. Sanders experienced the April 29 tornado firsthand.

The former Florida State Seminole grew up in the Sunshine State, where hurricanes are a regular occurrence, but he said this event was different.

“This was the closest proximity that I have ever been involved in because I saw it. I was down at an auction while this was transpiring and it was unbelievable,” Sanders continued. “Then we went to the house and we were like Lord please, secure us, bless us, protect us and keep us. And he did, but just several miles down the street it was devastation.”

During “The View” interview in New York, he met Katie Hammill of RetailMeNot. The two began talking about Canton and what could be done to help. RetailMeNot does shopping sprees throughout the year and Hammill felt this was a great idea for a day in the future.

Sanders was joined by his sons, Shedeur, 15, and Deion Jr., 23, along with their friends, to try and tackle this task.

“That is why I brought my sons. I am going to do the game planning, but they are going to make it happen,” Sanders said before things began. “I am going to call the play and we are going to go out there and make it happen for some wonderful people today.”

For those not familiar with Sam’s Wholesale Club, this place is not a supermarket. Picture Home Depot or Lowe’s, but nearly twice the size with the twice the stuff. It has everything from packages of toothpaste to big-screen plasma televisions, drones, grills, huge buckets of cheese balls, large packages of steaks and huge quantities of socks, paper towels and throw rugs.

Sanders had two minutes, although Hammill said she might have let the clock “run a little over” before calling it.

Just like he was dropping back to catch a punt at old Texas Stadium, Sanders was crouched like a track star ready to push his massive cart with a huge empty box on it. His sons and others tasked to help fanned out in other areas of the store.

Hammill yelled “go!” and Sanders took off. Speed is a good thing, but he nearly wiped out trying to make his first stop. He grabbed honey buns, a plant, more and more boxes of stuff. Meanwhile, his sons concentrated on the groceries and provisions aisles.

Like Deion said before starting, he didn’t feel big-screen televisions were what the victims of Canton needed right now.

As Sanders raced up and down aisles, a throng of people, cellphone cameras and television cameras went with him.

He ended up in the final seconds in the home section and was about to grab a couple of towels when Hammill suggested he just grab boxes of the towels and add that to his haul.

When Hammill finally called time, an exhausted Sanders went over to a huge industrial fan to take a couple more questions.

“This store, Sam’s, is so huge,” Sanders said in between exhales. “So you’ve got a game plan and thank God they had the carts in the aisles for us. But this store is huge and they have everything, from A to Z. You never conclude what you started, I mean we started in the food and we ended up in the towels.”

During the event, Sanders, who works for the NFL Network, made it clear to the media that sports questions were off the table.

He was here for Canton and the victims were the story, not him.

But that didn’t preclude the many sports journalists on hand to use a little sports vernacular in asking him to describe the spree.

Kevin John from CBS-19 asked, “Would you say the game plan was executed?”

Another question: “I noticed in the fourth quarter, a little fatigue was starting to set in ...”

The response drew laughter from the onlookers, media and Salvation Army representatives who followed him.

Sanders: “That was my son (Shedeur). Not me because I was doing the heavy lifting; I can’t block, catch, run, tackle and pass - I can’t do it all, but today you saw that I did.”

The final tally of everyone’s efforts came to $9,991.64.

A successful day for Sanders and the people of Canton.

 

TWITTER:@CParryETFS