Sanders, Robinson words do have power


Jake Crandall/Montgomery Advertiser

Immediately after the game between Jackson State University and Alabama State University, both coaches met midfield to offer congratulatory shakes for the contest.

Staff Editorial

Alabama State University Homecoming 2022 could not have ended on a more controversial issue than “the handshake that was heard around the world.” The handshake received more press than the game itself and became a social media phenomenon in a matter of minutes.
Normally at the conclusion of each football game, coaches will meet each other in the center of the field and shake hands as a show of sportsmanship. However, after the game between the Jackson State University Tigers and the Alabama State University Hornets, Coach Deion Sanders, known to most as Coach Prime wanted more than a handshake. So instead of the usual handshake that Coach Eddie Robinson Jr. was willing to give and did give, Coach Prime leaned in for the “Obama Bro Hug” and Coach Robinson pulled his arm back.
Since so many cameras, photographers and videographers were on the field when Coach Robinson “pulled his arm back” the narrative quickly became “Coach Robinson pushed Coach Prime back” and thousands of conversations began to generate between fans of both universities.
After the game, Coach Robinson explained why he did not want to “Obama Bro Hug” Coach Prime. He said he felt disrespected by comments that were made days before the game, as well as some of Coach Prime actions upon arrival at the university’s stadium. However, he did apologize for the language that he used during the press conference.
This editorial board feels that the actions by both coaches reinforces the adage that “words have power.”
Days before the game, Coach Prime insinuated that the reason why Alabama State University was playing them for Homecoming was because “it was a money grab.” He also said “all money ain’t good money.”
Well, what is interesting about these statements is that Jackson State University played Alabama State University for its homecoming last year and the stadium was filled to the tune of 53,000 people. Not once did Coach Donald Hill-Eley (head coach for the Hornets at the time) say that the game was a money grab. In addition, football schedules are worked out years in advance. Coach Robinson did not select Jackson State University as his opponent for homecoming, he walked into the situation upon his hiring and moved forward.
Coach Prime also said “I am not sure why they selected us for homecoming, I know they did not think that they could win.” Well, it was only two years ago, when the Alabama State University Hornets were victorious, and even in the game that was played Saturday, the Hornets held Jackson State to their second-lowest scoring total of the season.
It is well understood that Coach Prime promotes and markets well. He has done a great job for Jackson State University and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in those areas. As Coach Robinson said, and this editorial board agrees, he has done a lot for the SWAC. The statements that he made on social media really “hyped up” the game and thousands of people came out in response to the hype. However, Coach Robinson felt like the hype had crossed the line of disrespect, in the same way that Coach Prime felt that he was disrespected two years ago when Alabama State University displayed his photo on the jumbotron with a jheri curl.
Despite the marketing and promotion before the game, both coaches have an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner that is professional and exemplary. There are more than a hundred young men who are looking up to them as “men of distinction” and “moral barometers.” Their behavior will be definitely emulated by the team, and while both men have their reasons for their actions, do they really want both football teams to behave in that manner?
Of course not. Coach Robinson apologized for his speech during the press conference. He was heated, he felt disrespected, and the Hornets lost the game.
However, he acknowledged the fact that he has a responsibility to reflect the behavior of an institution of higher learning at all times because he is representing the university community.
This editorial board would encourage both men to understand that words do have power, and to be frank, the differences here could have been settled with a phone call or an email before the game and after the game.
These two teams will meet again next year, and it is our hope that the temperature would have settled and both teams can play with a sense of honor instead of the “bottled-up” hostility that originated from this game on Saturday.
Next year the enthusiasm about this game will be even more intense and it is the responsibility of both coaches to make sure that sportsmanship between them, as well as both teams, is demonstrated.
One of the things that HBCUs have always been able to brag about, as compared to their predominantly white institutions (PWI), is their ability to play each other in sports and still love each other after the game is over.
Despite the losses that the Hornets have experienced over the past 5 years to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, our games are held with dignity, laughter and fun.
Some PWIs cannot reside in the same hotel because the tensions are so high, however, HBCUs have been able to reside in the same hotel, talk to each other, party with each other talk trash to each other, but somehow understand that we still need each other and that we all have the same struggles.
Both coaches must heal this rift before next year and remember, “Words do have power.”