Advertisement

Deion Sanders accepts 2023 Sportsperson of the Year, thanks Buffs: 'You were there'

Colorado coach Deion Sanders receives the 2023 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award at the the Prime Video world premiere Of 'Coach Prime' Season 2 on Dec. 06, 2023 in Boulder, Colo.
Colorado coach Deion Sanders receives the 2023 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award at the the Prime Video world premiere Of 'Coach Prime' Season 2 on Dec. 06, 2023 in Boulder, Colo.

Wednesday night was all about "Coach Prime."

Colorado football coach Deion Sanders accepted Sports Illustrated's 2023 Sportsperson of the Year award in front of 4,621 fans and supporters at the CU Events Center. With those in attendance bursting into applause every few seconds, it was an evening that Sanders will remember for some time.

"I don't see white, I don't see Black, I don't see Hispanic, I don't see Asian, I don't see rich, I don't see poor, I don't see Christian. I see Buffs," Sanders said from a center-court podium as the crowd erupted into cheers.

"This is the kind of moment that I've dreamt of, prayed about."

The Sportsperson of the Year award has been given out since 1954 to an athlete, coach or team who best represents the spirt and ideals of sportsmanship, character and performance.

Recent honorees include Stephen Curry, Serena Williams, Tom Brady and LeBron James (Sanders is just the seventh coach to receive the honor), and according to Sports Illustrated CEO Ross Levinsohn, Sanders was the perfect candidate for the 2023 edition.

"There isn't a more deserving person than 'Coach Prime,'" Levinsohn said on Wednesday night.

Colorado athletic director Rick George wholeheartedly agrees with Levinsohn. A little more than a year after hiring Sanders as the Buffaloes' head coach, George was the first speaker of the night as Sanders accepted one of sports' most prestigious awards.

"No one in the country has generated as much excitement for a program as 'Coach Prime,'" George said. "The excitement around our program is the envy of the nation and this is where Colorado should always be.

"The best part of that, is we're just getting started."

According to Sanders, he's had the support of Colorado fans since he arrived in Boulder, and he took the time to thank them for that on Wednesday night.

"From Day 1, when Rick George, my dear friend, brought me here, you were there," Sanders said to Buffs supporters. "For the spring game, you sold us out and you were there. From the first home game all the way to the last one, you sold it out and you were there.

"So, my expectation from you from here on out, is that you're going to be there."

Continued support from the Colorado fanbase isn't the only thing that Sanders expects moving forward.

After giving a shoutout to 99-year-old CU superfan Peggy Coppom, who Sanders jokingly called "the finest, most beautiful, most sexiest woman in this house," Sanders made a bold declaration for 2024.

"We're going to get Peggy to a bowl game next season," Sanders said as the CUEC crowd burst into applause.

The Buffaloes fell two wins short of bowl eligibility in 2023, a campaign that will be chronicled on Season 2 of the docuseries "Coach Prime," but Sanders expects Colorado to still be playing football at this time next year.

Follow Colorado Buffaloes sports reporter Scott Procter on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: 'Coach Prime' accepts SI Sportsperson of the Year, promises bowl game