Deion Sanders Meets With Us so We'll Stop Saying Mean Things. There's Even a Form to Sign. Guess What.

Categories: Sports

deionsandersproject.jpg
Amy Silverstein
Deion Sanders heard that the Dallas Observer wrote some mean things about him.
"You look nervous," is how Deion Sanders greets me, loudly, as we meet me for the first time. I am not nervous. "That's just the way my face looks," I respond.

He says that I look fine but definitely nervous. I am confused.

We are standing in a fancy indoor practice field, one of several nice workout areas on a campus filled with kids playing sports. We're next door from the Oak Cliff campus of the Prime Prep Academy, the charter school that Sanders co-founded last year.

Sanders opens a door to the locker room, allegedly to give me a tour. Behind that door there are a few men pointing their video cameras at us, kind of just lurking there. I assume that they are from other news outlets and that some sort of press conference is about to take place. I am wrong.

Sanders and I ended up here together because late yesterday a guy named Omar showed up to the Dallas Observer office with some exciting news: Deion Sanders, the NFL Hall of Famer and former Cowboy, wanted to talk with us. Actually, Omar heard we have a reporter named Schutze who is good (true) but Omar settled for me after he asked if I'm a "good reporter" and I said "yes."

footballpractice.jpg
Amy Silverstein
Sanders has been in our paper and other local news outlets a bunch lately, mainly for Prime Prep, his charter school that's been the subject of some controversy. In an Observer cover story last year, writer Leslie Minora reported that Prime Prep has raised several red flags among watchdogs and journalists "ranging from nonexistent corporate donations to blatant moneymaking schemes," orchestrated by co-founder D.L. Wallace, who had tried to lease the school property for as much as $10,500 a month.

See also: Deion Sanders' Charter School and the Making of a Prime Time Scam

And last year, the Oak Cliff campus got shut out of local sports leagues amid accusations that it had too many players and had poached players from another local basketball power, Grace Prep, as Eric Nicholson reported last month.

See also: Deion Sanders' Prime Prep Academy Has a New League, and Apparently a New Star Athlete

But things have been looking up for Sanders. Now, he'll be getting some good publicity. Recently, Deadline Hollywood reported that the Oprah Winfrey Network has ordered a new reality series about "the crazy and chaotic family life" of Sanders.

As it turns out, my meeting with Sanders seems to be not so much an interview as a filming for that very show.

When I meet with Sanders, school isn't in session yet; that won't happen for another week. But tons of kids are at the campus practicing for the Truth sports league, which Sanders founded under his Prime Time Association. "Our mission is to serve communities by reaching and teaching our youth through sports and education," explains the Prime Time Association's website. The PTA is a nonprofit, though a mom I interview later would tell me that the Truth league charges participant athletes $250 a season.

Anyway, back to my Sanders interview. He leads me across campus, so I can see him in action coaching the young football players. Another man with a camera stops Sanders to let him know that he is going to be filming Sanders as he helps coach the kids. "Are you with the media too?" I ask the cameraman. He smiles at me.

On the football field, Sanders runs around, yelling directions at little kids in color-coordinated jerseys as I chase after him with my reporter's notebook. Sanders is out there everyday. "Look at this tan line," he says, pulling the collar of his shirt down as proof.

He makes vague allusions to his critics, saying how unfair it is "to have your integrity in question when you're trying to educate a child."

Asked to elaborate, it turns out that Sanders is talking about the Observer. We are the people who questioned his integrity. "The Observer, I think they were attacking us," he says to me as he stands in the middle of the field. He can't name a specific article. He's not even sure where to find copies of our paper. "No, I haven't even read them," he says. "I just hear things." He wants me to "kind of get to know a gentlemen before you attack" him, which seems fair, but then he is suddenly done with the interview and he assigns a 15-year-old student named Ja'quan Sheal to whisk me away.

Sheal tells me that he lives with Sanders because of some family issues. Sanders is like a father to him.

We are stopped by Shavon Cooke, a production assistant from the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Cooke sweetly tells me that I need to sign a release form, just to give the producers the OK to use footage that I might happen be in.

I won't sign, but I say I'll talk about it with my editor, and I give the nice producer lady my cell phone number. She understands. A few minutes later, Cooke calls me. It turns out, I happened to be in one of the shots they were filming. It's a shot with Sheal, the 15-year-old who has been leading me in circles around campus. He is one of the stars of the reality show, and they really need to use a shot of him walking around that I happen to be in.

Cooke runs over to meet me as I wander around outside the locker room with Sheal.

Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Network sounds kind of cool, but I refuse to sign the release form. Cooke tells me not to worry, that the editors can just blur my face out if that's what I want. However, I will also need to sign the release form to allow for that. We seem to be in an alternate reality where there are no options other than signing a "Deion Sanders Project" release form.

The release form is long with lots of suspicious-looking fine print and this woman is in a rush. I tell her to let me take the release form home before I sign it. Sure thing. Cooke hands the unsigned form over.

Sheal then leads me back to a guy whose last name is Calhoun (he wouldn't provide a first name or spelling as he actually doesn't want to be in this article). Calhoun, escorting me out, claims to know nothing about any reality show. "What cameras?" he says, when I ask him about the cameras I saw.

In the parking lot, a few moms are watching their kids practice. "We love it here," says Dianne Steward. Her son is 12 and a player in the Truth league. She sees Sanders out in the field every day. The league costs money to join, Steward says, but she's not sure how much because her husband is in charge of that.

Dunri Warner, another mom, says the price of playing in the Truth league is $250 per sports season. Her son, 9, has played a bunch of different sports in the league for the past three years. He also attends the Prime Prep charter school campus in Fort Worth.

The moms know the reality show is being filmed but say it doesn't get in the way of anything.

I leave and read the release form. It turns out to demand that I promise that I will not "disseminate any news story" about the reality show that I am currently writing about, and if I violate the clause I will be "liable for any attorney's fees and costs incurred by Company in connection with any claim or lawsuit brought in violation of this release." Whoa there, that could have been ugly.

This morning I called Cooke back to ask if Sanders just wanted to speak with me so that they could shoot a scene of him with a reporter for his reality show. "I will get back to you with that information," she said.

On the next page, you can find the release form for the "Deion Sanders Project" in its full glory. It's worth seeing.

My Voice Nation Help
63 comments
DirtyP1
DirtyP1

wait, a $250 sports fee? I've never heard of any school charging that. What is that fee for? To pay for better coaching or for ________ ? 

Djon_Brown
Djon_Brown

good ole D-Grow playing the sorry card as always

John1073
John1073

And what is his other company's name? Dual Sports Grocery Store? He is not very original with the names.

sack_o_woe
sack_o_woe

Public thanks to Deion for letting me know that education=sports. Explains a lot...

Blackman2day
Blackman2day

Deion has mastered the 'con' game.  he learned from one of the best... his corrupt business partner (and now Superintendent of Prime Prep), D.L. Wallace.  It's too bad that so many folk (especially a lot of my Black brothers and sisters) get suckered into their web of deceit.  Deion loves himself and Deion loves money.  PERIOD!!! 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Don't be nervous, baby, it'll all be over in a few minutes. . . 

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

This sounds like a total scam, and not just the "If you're in our show and you sign the contract, we can do whatever we want" kind of way.


The whole encounter seems odd. As though they brought you there just so they could have you on camera, so that they could get you to sign the contract. Notice I didn't say sign the contract to be on camera. It just sounds like this was a plot to sue and screw the Observer for whatever mean things they had said. The footage had nothing to do with anything I bet.

mcdallas
mcdallas

"Actually, Omar heard we have a reporter named Schutze who is good (true) but Omar settled for me after he asked if I'm a "good reporter" and I said "yes.""

Everything's relative, I guess.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

If Deion is associated with anything you know it's a scam. Once the God thing quits returning big bucks he will move on to the next con. 

phillscheldt
phillscheldt

SIMPLE SOLUTION... Just ask for UNION SCALE... That will shut them up.

dingo
dingo

I'm not a big Deon fan but its still kind of funny how the rich white kid schools do plenty of 'poaching' too, every year, but you never hear the news outlets report on them other than the one QB at Southlake a few years ago who came in from Oklahoma.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

great story and you're a fine writer Amy. but this could have been classic if Schutze went along like Omar had suggested..

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

How many times and with how many people he's tried that pathetic  "you look nervous" line with? People fall for that and his "Truth", 'Man of G-d', and think-of-the-children schtick? Gullible idiots.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Football Über Alles or maybe Deion Über Alles

James080
James080

This won't end well.....

juanmayeaux
juanmayeaux

Big O's OWN network, the proud network who brings you non-reality shows of Lyndsey Lohan trying to act normal and Prime Time, protector of little black boys. Of course Big O pretends to be "Porkin' & Beanin" Steadman. What a witch.

Stephani Pena
Stephani Pena

why should i keep it to myself? he's a public figure that brings scrutiny upon himself. i have done plenty of good things & i'll tell you what, i've never once felt the need to boast about it. that's called humility. also i have already gotten pretty far in life & it's not over yet. just a thought mister holier than thou, how about you take your own advice & keep your opinion & assumptions to yourself. last i checked i didn't need pathetic life advice from someone who doesn't mean shit to me.

Gary
Gary

Why would anyone sign a release like that?

April Jones-Syfrett
April Jones-Syfrett

he brought about 30 blacks kids to Dave and busters once they were like poor kids who he taught football too .. and he said there were all blacks kids cause white kids don't know what poor is .... im all about helping out needing but there was no need for him to say that all races know poor

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

After the first 15 or 16 concussions the kids won't know they've been scammed out of an education anyway.

Elan Smith
Elan Smith

If you don't have anything nice to say you should keep it to yourself. The media has their way of painting things. Deion has done many things for the community. What have you done? Are you perfect? Name calling and snap judgements won't get you very far in life.

Stephani Pena
Stephani Pena

he's just another bible thumping "man of god" with the ego the size of Texas..I'm sure he's patting himself on the back for being such a "charitable" person..he's as sleazy as a tote the note salesman..I could go on & on ;)

Roman Montemayor
Roman Montemayor

I think it's not only fair but paramount to have "your integrity in question when you're trying to educate a child." . . there isn't many other situations when it is -more- fair and incredibly important.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@juanmayeaux Oprah is a lesbian quadrillionaire that made her fortune convincing millions of bored/out of work housewives that she is just like them. At the peak of her powers, she could snap her fingers and make her friends wealthy by ordering her minions to go buy their book. Yeah, I always thought that there was some sort of witchcraft or sorcery involved.

2DollaHolla
2DollaHolla

@April Jones-Syfrett way too prestigious for chucky cheese ;)

Cowtown
Cowtown

@Cliffhanger If they play like Nine-Toes did, they will never hit anything hard enough to get a concussion.

markzero
markzero

@Elan Smith the only news worth reporting is the news that reinforces your world view, right?

smichaelclark59
smichaelclark59

Deion is no Christian.  He is using Christianity to gain money like most so called Christians in the Southern Sector

Johnny Bananas
Johnny Bananas

@Elan Smith Its not about being mean or name calling or making snap judgements. sometimes in life you just gotta call a spade a spade. dude. deion is a crook. the writing is on the wall.  

2DollaHolla
2DollaHolla

@Elan Smith oh yes so much for the kids in our community for them too look up to, you mean exactly like the time Deion threw the gun in the bushes when he was pulled over with Michael Irving? Yes you're right sugar, done so many things for this community

Johnny Bananas
Johnny Bananas

 he does a great job pulling off the whole "man of god"act. the "community" aka black people are eating it up!

amandad214
amandad214

@JustSaying @juanmayeaux Oprah is a lesbian? Umm... don't know why you would say that. Seems like you are trying to belittle Oprah by using what you might think is a slight by calling her a lesbian. No bueno.

phillscheldt
phillscheldt

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaulSeems like the entiere "shoot" was a scam to get FREE EXTRAS.... It's an

OLD trick, call a press conference. Additionally my guess is that as a
"representative / employee" of The Observer she had BETTER NOT SIGN
ANYTHING and if she did and I was her boss... FIRED IMMEDIATELY and it
APPEARS she understands more than she writes..... When reporting a story
for her employer she is a DIRECT REPRESENTATIVE of that Company.....I to
would NOT HAVE BUDGED.... on inch. Don't you REALLY WISH at some point we
could get the WHOLE STORY....

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@markzero @phillscheldt @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

True, very true.  Our point is that the production company was scamming her to work for free for the documentary.  Even if she wasn't getting paid and signed the release, her integrity will be called into question by people watching the show. 


By demanding a multiple of scale, the production company will drop her like a hot potato and try to scam someone else.


Personally if I were the reporter, I would not have budged until the cameras were off and put away.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@juanmayeaux  Thanks, juan. Any day without learning a new sexual euphemism is a day wasted. I am officially adding "bumping donuts" to my vocabulary.

juanmayeaux
juanmayeaux

@JustSaying Amen Brother and you know Big O and Gale where more than friends. She is probably bumpin' Donuts with some young producer on her network.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@amandad214 Not trying to belittle her. Well, not trying to belittle her sexuality. I couldn't care less about her. The fact remains that she would have never reached the level that she did if her audience knew that she was a lesbian the whole time. That's why she remains in the closet. At least Rosie hid it for a few years, made her money, then quit the show and essentially came out the next week.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...