Sanders passed out pairs of Prime 21 sunglasses to his players during a team meeting — “I just want to see how y’all look in ’em. You look good!” — and then gave some to the hosts of ESPN’s “First Take” and “The Pat McAfee Show” to wear on set Friday.
“College GameDay” is broadcasting this weekend from Boulder, where Sanders has led the Buffaloes to a No. 18 ranking and a 2-0 start after taking a 1-11 team and bringing in more than 80 new players. They kicked off the season with an upset at TCU over the national runners-up and then walloped Nebraska last weekend.
Before big games at Oregon and against USC, Colorado hosts Colorado State (0-1) on Saturday night, and during his weekly radio show, Norvell took a swipe at Sanders’ habit of wearing his cap and sunglasses during media interviews.
“I sat down with ESPN today. And I don’t care if they hear it in Boulder. I told them, ‘I took my hat off, and I took my glasses off.’ And I said, ‘When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and my glasses off.’ That’s what my mother taught me,” Norvell said. “They’re not going to like us, no matter what we say or do. It doesn’t matter. So, let’s go up there and play.”
Although that provided motivation for Colorado, which is a three-touchdown favorite over the Rams, Sanders told McAfee he didn’t appreciate Norvell’s comments following a week of respectful banter.
“I didn’t like that it happened because it’s another (Black coach),” Sanders said. “We started out right. He was complimenting me, I was complimenting him, but it just took a quick left. What happened?”
When Sanders handed out the stylish sunglasses to his players Thursday, he said Norvell’s dig at him was going to backfire not only with a fired-up Buffaloes team on Saturday but by helping sales of the sunglasses.
“They didn’t realize they just helped me with business,” he told his team.
“GameDay” host Rece Davis and his colleague, analyst Desmond Howard, had very different takes when asked Friday about Norvell’s dig at Sanders.
Davis said he didn’t think Norvell’s comments were meant as anything more than a message to his own players that they weren’t going to back down against a team and its charismatic coach that’s getting so much national attention.
“Who do you think he’s talking to?” Davis said. “He’s talking to his players: ‘We’re not afraid. We’re going in there, we’re not intimidated by all the attention they get, or by the force of his personality or by the talent of Travis Hunter or Shedeur Sanders. We’re not intimidated by any of that. We’re going to play and we’re going to do our thing.’”
Davis said Colorado rightfully used Norvell’s words as bulletin board fodder, “but I didn’t think for a second” Norvell meant to insult Sanders.
Howard called it petty for Norvell to complain about Sanders wearing sunglasses or a hat and never should have brought anyone’s mother into the discussion.
“If you know Deion Sanders, not even Coach Prime, but if you just know Deion Sanders, he’s really, really close to his mom. Like extremely close to his mother,” Howard said. “So … when you bring it to the way you were raised, then that’s like damn near beyond personal. I’m assuming at this point, he wants to apologize for that because it wasn’t necessary.”
Howard said taking a shot at Sanders “over his fashion seems silly because you’re talking about a guy who doesn’t swear, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke doesn’t use drugs. He’s a great example for young men and women. And you want to sit there and talk about if he had on shades and a hat? Like how petty and ridiculous are you to go there? Why does that even bother you?
“Shouldn’t your attention be on something else? How’s your team doing? How are your players doing? How are his players doing? How’s his team doing?”