On March 6, Jackson State will be strutting into Grambling despite controversial media attention the organization and new head coach, Deion Sanders, have received recently.
According to deadspin.com critics are doubting Sanders capabilities as a head coach on a collegiate level considering his lack of experience in his primary task at JSU, coaching.
On the contrary, JSU legend Eddie Payton is expressing his full confidence in Sanders' overall success with the program.
Payton’s expectation is that JSU win every game, including this weekend when they travel to Eddie Robinson Stadium for GSU's season and homeopener.
“I am just like everybody else: I bleed blue and white. I will stand up, and I will eat crow if we don’t win every game. I expect us to win every game. I’m disappointed when we don’t. But I’m standing in the aisles waiting to find out what it is I can do if needed to help,” Payton said in an interview.
Payton has been vocal in the past in regards to changes made to the JSU football progam that he did or did not necessarily agree with and how those changes may affect the student body.
Since Payton's departure from the team, he has not always been a fan. However, now that Sanders has stepped onto the scene Payton is again full of JSU team spirit.
Sanders said he is thankful for the guidance and knowledge Payton has provided to him.
"Eddie has been wonderful in guiding me and giving me wisdom on certain things,” said Sanders.
Last week, after the team’s first victory of the season in a 53-0 blowout win over Edward Waters College, it was reported sy Sports illustrated tha Sanders displayed "bizarre" behavior including insisting items were stolen out of his office during the game.
“For one, the kids played really well,” Sanders said during his postgame news conference. “But while the game was going on, someone came in and stole every darn thing I have in the coaches’ office. Credit cards, wallet, watches. Thank god I had on my necklaces.”
All items were later recovered. It is disputed what actually happened. JSU said Sanders' personal belongings had been moved for safekeeping while Sanders, in a possible move to save face, contends the itemes were stolen and returned.
This seems like a pattern. A stereo out of Sanders vehicle was stolen just last month where the alleged thief supposedly returned the item along with a note.
Many personal problems pertaining to Sanders are being highlighted, overshadowing the JSU football team’s more exciting news, like their win against Edward Waters College last week.
Payton’s eagerness to help in the success of JSU football this season may be more needed off the field than on the field.
His advice to Sanders is to show the community who he really is and not what he is or was.
"Go to churches. Go to junior programs. You've got to include the Jackson community. They don't know you. They only know of you. You've got to get to where people in the Jackson community know you before they will respect you and support you,” Payton said.
With the rocky start to Sanders' tenure one may question that advice.
Either way, Grambling is looking forward to hosting Jackson State for the team’s first official game of the season on March 6 at the Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium at noon.
Payton and Jackson State may be eating crow really soon.