For better or worse, the best athletes tend to grow into larger than life figures. George Herman Ruth, for example, gave way to the home run hitting, hot dog eating Babe. Michael Jordan became His Airness; Kobe Bryant assumed the mantle of the Black Mamba. On the football field, however, very few men could compete with the likes of Brian Bosworth and Deion Sanders.
Although The Boz didn’t last long in the NFL, he might have had one major impact on the sports world. The linebacker may have prompted Deion Sanders to assume his famous ‘Prime Time’ persona.
Brian Bosworth shone on the college stage as ‘The Boz’
These days, the name Brian Bosworth conjures up images of a player who talked a big game but failed to live up to the hype. During his time at the University of Oklahoma, though, the linebacker seemed like the real deal.
Bosworth was unanimous voted onto the All-American team during his sophomore and junior seasons; he took home the Butkus Award as the top collegiate linebacker during the same two campaigns. The Boz also was a finalist for the 1986 Heisman Trophy, finishing in fourth place.
For all of that talent, though, Bosworth wasn’t an angel. When the Sooners appeared in the 1986 Orange Bowl, the linebacker was suspended for the game after testing positive for steroids. To make matters worse, he then appeared on the sidelines wearing a shirt that referred to the NCAA as “National Communists Against Athletes.” He was promptly dismissed from the program, but there was no turning back. The Boz had become a larger than life figure, only capable of doing things his own way.
Brian Bosworth may have made Deion Sanders become ‘Prime Time’
During his time at Florida State, Deion Sanders emerged as a multi-sport star. Despite shining on the gridiron, the baseball field, and the track, though, he knew he needed to do something more.
“I remember sitting in my room saying to my roommate, ‘This is garbage what they’re paying defensive backs,” Sanders explained. “I said, ‘I’m not going to be just a defensive back. I’m going to be more. And this is how I’m going to do it.’ I manipulated the press. I created something larger than a football player.”
That “something larger” was was his ‘Prime Time’ persona. While the nickname dated back to Sanders’ high school career, Brian Bosworth indirectly brought it to the world.
“When I saw a white linebacker at Oklahoma getting all that attention, that’s when ‘Prime Time’ was born,” Sanders said, according to Barry Switzer, who coached Bosworth in college and Deion in Dallas.
Deion Sanders went on to be a star
While Brian Bosworth and Deion Sanders both developed larger than life personas, their careers went in opposite directions. Bosworth only played 24 NFL games before retiring; Sanders, on the other hand, became a star.
Neon Deion put together a solid baseball career, playing part-time for nine seasons; he posted a .263 batting average with 186 stolen bases while playing the outfield. On the gridiron, though, he truly shone. Whether he was lining up at cornerback or returning punts, Prime Time made an impact; he also won two Super Bowls and was elected to the Pro Football of Fame during his first year of eligibility.
Deion Sanders had all the talent he needed to become a multi-sport star; his Prime Time persona, however, might not have come to life if not for Brian Bosworth.