Deion's Mouth Set Off 49ers' Tampering Charges

Deion Sanders probably just wanted to explain to basic cable-watching schlubs like you and me why Michael Crabtree had good reasons to turn down a $20 million market-value contract offer from the San Francisco 49ers.

But Deion's choice of words may have seriously undermined Crabtree's quest for a bigger payday.

A report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen confirms that Deion Sanders' remarks on the NFL Network did in fact prompt the 49ers to suspect that other NFL teams were tampering with their negotiations with the unsigned rookie.

As Tim Kawakami writes on the Mercury News blog, "Deion Sanders is now a key player, which is never good."

What's rotten in the state of Deion's reporting can be summed up in one sentence he uttered on the NFL Network. "There have been two teams that have contacted the San Francisco 49ers desiring a trade and will pay this kid," Sanders said in an interview available online, "And he knows that."

That interview will now live in infamy, and not just because Deion actually went on television in a pastel rainbow-striped shirt with a pink tie. If "this kid" Crabtree actually "knows that" other teams have committed to offering him millions more, then it's an open-and-shut case of tampering. Teams are prohibited from communicating offers to players who are property of another team. 

But Deion didn't say anything about any New York Jets in those comments, and the 49ers' charges reported in the New York Daily News do specifically name the Jets. You can bet the 49ers are submitting additional evidence beyond Deion Sanders' remarks, additional evidence we don't know about yet.

And if that's not X-Files enough to give your spine goose bumps, consider that Deion specifically said "two teams". Cam Inman thinks that one over in Tuesday's Mercury News and writes, "Because this report comes out of New York and involves one of that state (or, OK, New Jersey's) teams, you have to wonder if the 49ers have levied charges against other teams and news hasn't leaked out yet. Stay tuned."

Stay tuned indeed, but don't expect to see Deion being allowed to argue Crabtree's case on television again anytime soon.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thinks Deion Sanders' wardrobe makes a good case against the digital-television conversion.

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