Disgraceful. Disgusting. Shameful. Reprehensible. Sell out. Those were some of the words that came to mind as I witnessed Deion Sanders’ speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It wasn’t so much the speech that bothered me (though there are some aspects that made him seem phony). Rather, it was Deion’s choice to sully his esteemed gold jacket with a corporate logo, and plug his corporate sponsor during his speech, that ticked me off.
As you can see in the picture above, Deion prominently placed a pin with the logo of a sports apparel company on the right jacket lapel. Marshall Faulk also wore a logo pin, but his was on the left and hardly noticeable because it was covered by the flower. Deion’s pin stood out.
Then, four and a half minutes into his speech while Deion was thanking people in his career, he paused as he got to another category: sponsors.
“[sponsor's name] you see a bunch of kids around here with ‘truth’ on. It would have not been possible had it not been for [sponsor]. I thank you [sponsor], and I love you. Dearly,” Deion said, becoming the first person I know of who sold commercial time during a Hall of Fame induction speech.
Sure, Deion may have brought hundreds of children to Canton, Ohio to witness his induction ceremony. That’s a wonderful gesture and an experience they’ll remember forever. But if Deion truly wanted to enrich the lives of those children and teach them a proper lesson, he would have omitted all mentions of a sponsor during his speech. Instead, he taught them how to sell out to an advertiser by becoming a walking billboard on one of the most prestigious stages in sports.
Deion himself described the induction evening as “one of the best nights ever.” He extrapolated on that thought during his speech.
“Do you understand that this is the Hall of Fame? I grew up on some of you guys,” Sanders proudly pointed out.
His fellow inductees held the honor in the same regard.
Shannon Sharpe spoke of the Hall of Fame as the “fraternity of fraternities.” He explained it was a place where everyone could catch each other. Nearly everyone claimed that they were humbled by the achievement.
There is little doubt that reaching the Hall of Fame is the apotheosis of playing sports. Deion Sanders understood that because reflecting on his career moved him to tears. But if the honor meant that much to him, how could he besmirch the ceremony by using the platform to promote a sports apparel company?
His actions showed he lacked the proper respect for the Hall of Fame. He proved the honor did not mean much to him.
I’m sure there are some rich people in suits, sitting in offices reading this story right now. They’re probably smiling and laughing at the notice their brand is receiving. They’re probably high fiving about how “innovative” they are for coming up with such creative ways to get mentioned during the Hall of Fame ceremony.
Obviously those people only care about one thing: money. The words I write will do little to affect them. But hopefully this will be a powerful reminder to you about a value called decency.
There’s nothing stopping a Hall of Fame inductee from tattooing a sponsor’s name on his forehead during his speech. There’s nothing stopping an inductee from ripping off his jacket to unveil from a sponsored t-shirt. There’s nothing stopping me from break dancing during a funeral. Nothing really. But just because these things can be done does not mean they should be done.
Money changes hands through business and that makes the economy go round. Even here at LBS we need advertisements to generate revenue in order to survive. But there are limits. We won’t put advertisements in our pictures or within the context of a post, like we’ve been offered to. We can do it, but we choose not to.
Why is that? Because it crosses a line of decency.
We recognize where that line is. It’s shameful that Deion does not. The sad thing is it looks like Dez Bryant was right.Google+