Deion Sanders joins Wranglers ownership group
AUSTIN - Multi-talented athlete and respected businessman Deion Sanders will return to professional football as an owner of the Austin Wranglers of the Arena Football League, the team announced Wednesday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.
Joining a group of accomplished AFL owners, Sanders will compliment the current Wranglers ownership and executives, which includes Team President Doug MacGregor, General Manager Glyn Milburn, Dell CFO Jim Schneider and other high-tech executives. He also joins ex-NFL veterans Mike Ditka (Chicago Rush), John Elway (Colorado Crush), Joey Galloway (Columbus Destroyers), Ron Jaworski (Philadelphia Soul), and Neil Smith (Kansas City Brigade) as former NFL standouts that are active in team ownership or the front office of Arena Football League teams.
In addition to the former NFL players involved, the AFL's ownership group includes five current teams operated by NFL owners - Colorado (Pat Bowlen and Stan Kroenke), Dallas (Jerry Jones, Sr.), Georgia (Arthur Blank), Nashville (Bud Adams) and New Orleans (Tom Benson). Both the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins currently own the rights to future AFL teams in their respective markets and recording artists Jon Bon Jovi (Philadelphia Soul) and Tim McGraw (Nashville Kats) are also AFL co-owners.
As an owner of the Wranglers, Sanders will have an active role in all operational aspects of the team reaching from football operations to the team's front office. Sanders is expected to play a leadership role in the Austin Wranglers Foundation, which has a commitment to developing the youth of Central Texas. He will also utilize his role with the Wranglers to further his work with the elderly and inner-city youth.
"I am excited to join the Wranglers organization and contribute to the growth of Arena Football in Central Texas," said Sanders. "The Wranglers are committed to furthering their position within the AFL through excellence on the field and in the community."
Revered as a one of the few modern-day two-way players, Sanders' new involvement in "Ironman" football is only appropriate. Originally drafted in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, Sanders' professional sports career has spanned three decades. A two-time Super Bowl champion, eight-time Pro Bowl selection and 1994 Defensive Player of the Year, Sanders dominated NFL secondaries during his illustrious career.
In addition to his storied NFL career, Sanders played nine seasons of Major League Baseball. Sanders is the only athlete to play in a NFL and MLB game in the same day.
Often nicknamed "Prime Time," Sanders worked as a sports broadcaster for CBS ' The NFL Today from 2001-04.
"The addition of Deion to our ownership brings a charismatic and creative leader with a wealth of professional sports experience and a great marketing flare," MacGregor said. "Deion will be a tremendous asset to the Arena Football League, while helping the Wranglers achieve their mission to build a team that the Central Texas region is proud of both on and off the field."
"Deion joins an already impressive roster of AFL owners who are among the best in sports," says Commissioner David Baker. "He is an Arena Football fan, believes in the AFL message and is committed to growing the game."
His addition to the Wranglers ownership group is also concurrent with the team's 2007 sponsorship and ticket package introduction.
The Wranglers (8-5) are currently in second place in the AFL's Southern Division. This weekend, Austin can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over the Columbus Destroyers (6-7) and a loss by Tampa Bay (6-7) or with a Wranglers win and a combination of losses by Philadelphia (7-6) and Georgia (7-6).
On Saturday, April 29, the Wranglers enter "prime time" with their new owner and host the Columbus Destroyers at 7 p.m. During the pre-game festivities, Wranglers Team President Doug MacGregor will introduce the newest addition to the ownership group, Deion Sanders, to the fans.
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