Following his team's 53–0 win over Edward Waters on Sunday in his head coaching debut, Jackson State coach Deion Sanders was not in a celebratory mood as he spoke to the media.
Instead, the Pro Football Hall of Famer shared with reporters how angry he felt when he returned to the coaches' room to find that all of his belongings, including his phone, wallet, credit cards and watches, had been taken.
Shortly after Sanders shared this, however, Jackson State officials told Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger that Sanders's belongings had not actually been stolen, and were simply misplaced after being relocated for safekeeping. They have since been found and returned to Sanders, bringing a positive resolution to a bizarre sequence of events.
But Sanders denied this version of the events later Sunday evening, saying on Twitter that his belongings were stolen out of his bag in his office but the perpetrator was caught in the act by Sanders's assistant. In a statement to Dellenger afterward, Sanders said the items were later found "stashed away in another location."
Sanders called Sunday's win, which culminated in his receiving an ice bath on the sidelines and being presented with the game ball by his players, “One of the best moments I’ve ever had in my professional sports career, emotionally.” He described the alleged theft as a "malicious personal attack" and said it was the second time he'd had property stolen from him since moving to Jackson in December.
Sanders's hiring at Jackson State drew plenty of fanfare, kicking off the "Coach Prime" era for the HBCU that has already raised the profile for the school. Sanders has pledged to improve the playing conditions and infuse the program with success it hasn't experienced in years while praising the Jackson community for embracing him.
“The people in the city of Jackson and surrounding cities have been wonderful," Sanders said during the SWAC’s Media Days. "I’ve seen the compassion and picked up a few meals because the people have been so good to me. It’s been above and beyond all expectations.”
Jackson State held a 31–0 halftime lead over Edward Waters, a program that competes at the NAIA level. The Tigers will play next on Saturday at home against Mississippi Valley State.