In a graphic new scene from his documentary series “Coach Prime,” Colorado football coach Deion Sanders sat in a chair as a doctor sawed through a cast on his left foot and then pulled a metal pin out from the end of his toe.
The pin measured several inches long and was extracted from deep in his flesh as a camera zoomed in to capture it for Season 2 of the series on Amazon Prime Video, which debuted this week.
“Jesus Christ,” Sanders said as the doctor removed the first of two pins.
Call it a queasy moment, but it was also an example of the kind of behind-the-scenes access that creates compelling television, even if the overall story is already known and the content is controlled by Sanders and his business manager.
The first two episodes released this week cover much of what has been in the news over the last year, including the hiring of Sanders at Colorado, his roster overhaul there and his leg surgeries. What sets it apart now after the football season is the detail shared in private moments and interviews with Sanders, his players and coaches.
Here are four takeaways from the first two episodes of Season 2, which lasts six episodes and covers Sanders’ first year in Boulder.
Deion Sanders had a plan for those pins
Sanders underwent surgeries before the season to fix blood clots in his legs and relieve discomfort in his left foot, which previously had two toes amputated from it. The pins were plunged into two of his remaining toes to help them heal before they were pulled out in the summer, as shown in Episode 2.
“I’ve never seen pins get taken out like that,” athletic trainer Lauren Askevold said in the series. “Doc just kind of grabbed them and yanked.”
Then something strange happened. Sanders wanted the pins back to show his team.
Players winced, but Sanders had a message to share as he held them up in a team meeting.
“These pins were that far within my toes,” he told his players.
He said this was about fighting for your goals, in this case his dream to be able to run out with his team before the season opener at TCU, which he did, with the help of a painkiller injection.
“We’re gonna have to deal with some pain,” he told his team on the show. “We’re gonna have to deal with some pins. It ain’t gonna be easy. It’s gonna hurt, but when you get to that point, I can’t wait to share that feeling and that emotion. I can’t wait to run out that tunnel with you.”
Candid comments from Colorado coaches
Sanders overhauled a team roster that finished 1-11 in 2022, with fewer than 10 scholarship players returning from that team out of a scholarship limit of 85. Sanders previously has explained why the roster flip was necessary, but these episodes show how his assistant coaches felt about the quality of the players they inherited, too − and why they thought those players needed to be pushed out..
∎ “I was almost shocked at what I saw,” Colorado defensive coordinator Charles Kelly said in Episode 1. “It was just like, `This isn’t the Colorado that I remember.’”
∎ “This is hard. These guys are bad,” Sanders said of certain players during a spring practice.
∎ “They were 1-11 last year, and in football, guess who’s the first to get fired? The coaches,” Colorado linebackers coach Andre’ Hart said. “So why I wanna play with some guys that got the other guy fired? It didn’t work for him. So why is it gonna work for me? What’s gonna be so much different?”
∎ Hart also explained the rebuilding strategy in blunt terms.
“Got rid of the guys that couldn’t do it, brought some guys in and start coming back up the steps again,” he said.
Deion Sanders had a rough time
Sanders, 56, didn’t publicly complain much about his post-surgery foot discomfort, though he had to sit down briefly on the sideline during the season opener at TCU. Episode 2 showed he was hobbled by pain behind the scenes, requiring a pain-killing injection in his foot before the game, also shown on camera.
“Thank you, Jesus,” Sanders said to himself, almost crying with joy and physical agony after winning at TCU Sept. 2.
Before the season, the Pro Football Hall of Famer was in such rough shape after surgery that he told his athletic director, Rick George, that his groin area hurt “like crazy” and he needed “knockout pills” to get him through the night.
Fleeting fame for some Colorado players
Some of the players showcased in the first two episodes served as a reminder about how quickly the spotlight can come and go for college athletes even under the glare of all those cameras following Sanders.
For example, walk-on running back Charlie Offerdahl drew raves for his effort and toughness in scenes filmed before the season. He is jokingly referred to as “Porn Star” by Sanders, apparently because of his retro-looking mustache.
But because these scenes were filmed before the season − and because the episodes weren’t released until after the season − it makes you wonder: “Whatever happened to him? How did his season go after that?”
He finished the season with two rushing attempts for 11 yards, both of which came in the second game of the season Sept. 9.
Another player, defensive lineman Bishop Thomas, is featured in the second episode as a skateboarder who transferred from Florida State. In the season-opening win at TCU, he made a big block for a teammate's touchdown after his big body was called for duty on offense.
What happened to him after that?
He finished the season with six total tackles, none in the second half of the season.
Perhaps in future episodes we’ll be shown the dynamic performance of freshman receiver Omarion Miller, who caught seven passes for a freshman school record 196 yards in a 48-41 loss against Southern California Sept. 30.
What happened to him after that?
He caught a combined four passes for 38 yards after that, never more than one catch in a game.
On a team full of transfer players, it can be hard to stand out for long.
Colorado finished the season with a 4-8 record. Season 2 of “Coach Prime” continues next week.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: email@example.com
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Assessing Season 2 of 'Coach Prime,' the Deion Sanders show