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BarStool Sports Goes Prime Time

A week ago, it was announced that Deion Sanders was leaving the NFL Network after 15 years. Most figured “Prime Time” would live up to the name, maybe Deion could be the savior of ESPN’s Monday Night Football quagmire or something equally high profile. So the corner blitz that took place last week, when “Neon” Deion agreed to join the pirate ship of Barstool sports, a major tone was struck against the established sports media landscape.

NFL pregame shows have followed a predictable pattern for as long as anybody can remember. One capable host + two legends + one coach + one respected regional writer (you’re not sure where they came from but probably wrote in Denver or Philadelphia) and there’s your show. The parts are interchangeable, Dan Marino’s out? Replace him with Boomer Esiason. Michael Irvin wants more money? Is Shannon Sharpe available? Bill Cowher suddenly wants to get back into coaching, we’ll check Jimmy Johnson’s contract situation. Lather, rinse, cliché.

So the idea of such an iconic staple of not only studio analysis, but the league itself, to high step off the merry-go-round and forge his own path with an entity like Barstool Sports is a major development. Whether you’re a Stoolie yourself, or someone who uses them as the poster child for everything that is wrong with media, few have no reaction when they see the “Stool and Stars” logo. Their “Saturday’s are for the Boys” flags adorn college dorm rooms the way John Belushi’s Animal House posters once did. To quote Pepsi commercials from the early 90’s, “It’s the choice of a new generation!” (Uh-huh!)

The establishment of sports media is changing.

Players who once would have been earmarked for major network studio shows are doing their own thing. Take Chris Long for instance: played over a decade in the league, won a couple of rings, Walter Payton man of the year winner and one of the most intelligently-outspoken players in the league his entire career. Not to mention, son of hall of famer and Fox NFL Sunday monolith, Howie Long.

15-years ago, CBS, Fox or ESPN would’ve backed up a truck from Men’s Warehouse to his from door told him to pick out 25-suits (4 preseason, 17 regular season and 4 more for the playoffs). Now Long has a podcast where he’s interviewed everybody from Steve Kerr to Ken Burns. Why would he even want to leave his hometown of Charlottesville, VA to work in Bristol, CT anyway?

Deion Sanders and Barstool Sports will be a mutually beneficial marriage: Deion will give great validation (atleast to the mainstream) to Barstool and Barstool will continue to grow the stature of Sanders as an icon to a younger generation who were born after Prime retired in 2004. Deion Sanders has been cool for over 30-years and by doing things his way yet again, he’ll be cool for 30 more.

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