*Deion Sanders received the key to the city in Fort Myers, Florida, on Saturday, and he used the moment to reconcile with his hometown.
The NFL Hall of Fame cornerback received the honor during a community forum Saturday night at Fort Myers High School. The event was attended by about 150 people, prompting Sanders to issue a heartfelt speech, per USA Today.
“This is long overdue. This is like a reconciliation for me. The reason it hurt so bad was because I don’t give a damn what they say about me in Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco, New York. I don’t care because it was my job. … When you talk about me, some things I let slide, but you are all family. You only get one shot at calling the place home,” said Sanders.
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Deion Sanders apologizes to hometown in long-awaited return https://t.co/rBgVBQNjj9
— MSN Sports (@MSNSports) May 5, 2019
David Dorsey of the Fort Myers News-Press noted the reasons for the rocky relationship between the two-time Super Bowl winner/World Series player and the city of Fort Myers. Local police arrested the NFL icon twice—the first in 1988 while he was playing for Florida State, and the second in 1996, per The Bleacher Report.
“Those incidents, among others, have soured Sanders on his hometown,” Dorsey wrote.
But the friction was curbed on Saturday.
“You are indeed a hometown hero,” Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson said to Sanders.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Sanders said. “God was saying reconciliation. This has been reconciliation and a spirit of peace since I got here.”
“I apologize to you as well. You have no idea what you all did to me this particular weekend. The best is yet to come,” he added.
On Sunday, Sanders reportedly hosted his Prime Elite Underclassmen Camp for local athletes at Bishop Verot High School.
Fort Myers Councilwoman Terolyn Watson is hoping the city and Sanders can work together and facilitate the changes the city so desperately needs.
“I think Deion’s main message tonight is the choices you make in life can make a difference,” Watson said. “He’s one of our most successful people. He has a great story. He’s a great role model.”