"Right wrist: Almost barren. Just a chain link bracelet.
"Left wrist: A Gucci watch and another bracelet.
"Chest: The auditor needed Deion's help here, so thick was the golden cluster. Thumbing through the necklaces, Deion called 'em out: 'Dollar sign...Prime Time...dollar sign...Jesus on the cross...dollar sign...my number ...dollar sign.' That made seven. He omitted a simple choker."
Chump change, as they say. It was fortunate for the security folks at the Hartsfield metal detectors, who would have missed dinner, that Sanders had stashed most of his juray in his luggage before heading to Atlanta. Soon enough, he told everyone he hated the name Neon Deion. ("That just doesn't sound like me," he explains now.) He much preferred Prime Time. And he wouldn't discuss the money he expected to be paid by the Falcons except to say, "It's gonna be a lot of zeros in that contract. You're gonna think it's alphabet soup or something, all them zeroes in there." He grabbed a microphone. "Hello, Atlanta," said Deion, introducing himself. "This is Deion Sanders, Prime Time. Live. It's..." he checked the Gucci "...five minutes to eight. And the thrill is here. Later."
Later, a more sophisticated Deion would encounter the Atlanta media again and again at Hartsfield. One radio guy paged Sanders there and began a phone interview. "Wait," said Deion. "You TV?...No?" Click. In June, amid contract talks with the Falcons at the airport—this was during one of the seventh-inning stretches of his baseball season, which was spent mostly with Triple A Columbus between two stints with the Yankees—Sanders angrily stormed out of a negotiating session and, alternately leading reporters on a merry chase through the crowded terminal and speaking on one of his ubiquitous cellular phones ("You'd be surprised," he says, "people be callin' me all the time"), he created still another media extravaganza. "Get the cameras, get the cameras," Sanders said. "These all the cameras we got?"
"Anybody know a good talk show?" said his agent, Steve Zucker. "Deion's looking for one."
"We're all proud of you," said Florida Senator Bob Graham, who happened to be passing by.
"They must be crazy," Sanders was overheard spouting into the cellular. "They started out offering $400,000. So I just walked."
The parties were only about, oh, $7.5 million apart. Rankin Smith, the Falcons' owner, said he might have to take Sanders' advice and purchase him "on layaway." So it's a wonder that only 10 weeks later the Falcons were able to bring themselves to pay him $4.4 million over four years. And it's even more of a wonder that, 24 hours after slugging a home run in Seattle on Tuesday, Sept. 5, Sanders could strike out, high-five his Yankee teammates goodbye inside the visitors' dugout on Wednesday, fly the red-cornea to Atlanta and grab breakfast at the Waffle House on Thursday morning and then, on Sunday afternoon, run back a punt 68 yards for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams five minutes and 31 seconds into the first pro football game he had ever played.
From the Yankee outfield to the professional gridiron? Only one man had ever done that before, George Halas. Hit a major league home run and score a professional touchdown in the same week? No one had ever done that. And hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same professional ballpark? Bo Jackson had done it, in the Seattle Kingdome. Sanders did it too, almost. He hit his first homer as a Yankee on June 4 at Milwaukee County Stadium; then he returned a kickoff 96 yards there against the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 1, though the play was nullified because of a holding penalty. Picky, picky.