At one point, there was not a more entertaining football player in the world than Deion Sanders. After five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons in which he recorded 24 interceptions, forced seven fumbles and returned five kicks and punts for touchdowns, he helped lead the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl titles.
At the peak of his game, Sanders was playing on both sides of the ball and returning kicks for the Dallas Cowboys. Prime Time was one of the most feared defensive backs in the league and one of the most loved players off the field for his bravado. However, despite all of his success, despite all of the love and admiration, despite all of the money and material things, Sanders was hurting internally — so much so that he attempted to kill himself by driving his car 40 feet off a cliff in 1997.
Sanders joined Paula Faris’ Journeys of Faith podcast and spoke about what led to his suicide attempt.
“Rock bottom for me was having hundreds of suits and not covering the pain. Rock bottom for me was having hundreds of pairs of shoes but couldn’t take a step in the right direction,” he said. “Rock bottom for me was having 10 cars and wasn’t going nowhere. Rock bottom for me was having a 14,000-square-foot house but never feeling at home.”
“Rock bottom for me was laying between two and three women at a time, but you get up unsatisfied…Laying right beside the person who said they love you, but she didn’t even know you was in pain. That was rock bottom for me,” he said.
Sander’s story is a special case in how much mental health has been ignored in the Black community and how real depression is, even for those who seemingly have everything. Prime Time was at the peak of his powers and had the world in the palm of his hand, but was still going through an internalized pain that wasn’t even recognized by those closest to him.
He said that he’s dedicated himself to religion since the incident, and at age 51, is still one of the biggest personalities in football.