HomeSportsShaq Defends Deion Sanders, Controversial Comments

Shaq Defends Deion Sanders, Controversial Comments

by Nick Geddes
Shaquille O'Neal
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders has an ally in Pro Basketball Hall of Fame center and “Inside the NBA” analyst Shaquille O’Neal.

Sanders, set to embark on his first season in Boulder, has faced criticism for recent comments on “The Rich Eisen Show” in which he said he aims to recruit quarterbacks who have a high GPA and come from dual parent homes.

“Well, we have different attributes. Smart, tough, fast, disciplined with character. Now, quarterbacks are different,” Sanders said. “We want mother, father. Dual parent. We want that kid to be 3.5 [GPA] and up. Because he has to be smart. Not bad decisions off the field, at all. Because he has to be a leader of men.”

During the most recent episode of “The Big Podcast,” O’Neal defended Sanders, saying there’s nothing wrong with his line of thinking.

“Ain’t nothing wrong with that,” O’Neal said, via Fox News. “There ain’t nothing wrong with what he said. Know why I have discipline? You know why I don’t get in trouble? You know why I don’t do dumb s—? Daddy would have whooped my a–. Lot of kids don’t have that. A lot of kids have hard-working mothers that really have to work and they grow up on their own. And you can go left or you can go right. Studies show, statistics show, that’s just how it is.”

Deion Sanders in the Middle of Religion Controversy With Atheist Group

Sanders is at the center of a religious controversy with an atheist group stemming from his continuous references to Christianity around his team.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization which advocates for atheists, agnostics, and non theists, sent the University of Colorado a letter on Jan. 24. The group claims that residents contacted them concerned that players were being pressured into prayer during team meetings.

The group called on the university to teach Sanders about “his constitutional duties under the Establishment Clause” and to “ensure that Sanders understands that he has been hired as a football coach and not a pastor.”

First Liberty Institute Counsel Keisha Russell came to the defense of Sanders in February.

“The [U.S.] Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public school employees may engage in religious expression and exercise; therefore, public universities like CU may not target Coach Sanders (or other members of the football staff) for exercising constitutional rights on campus,” Russell wrote in the letter.