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Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, center, stops and pulls off his sunglasses and smiles for the crowd as players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Colorado State, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Deion Sanders and Team Forgive Player Whose Late Hit Sent Star to Hospital with Lacerated Liver

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University of Colorado Buffaloes Head Coach Deion Sanders stood up for Colorado State safety Henry Blackburn on Tuesday after he received death threats for a late hit that sent the Buffaloes' two-way star Travis Hunter to the hospital with a lacerated liver. 

Blackburn delivered a late blow to Hunter’s midsection on an incomplete pass in the first quarter of the Rocky Mountain Showdown last weekend. The Rams' senior drew a flag for unnecessary roughness, one of 17 penalties the Rams committed in the 43-35 double-overtime loss to the Buffaloes. Hunter went to the hospital for further evaluation.

“That's absurd for people to be threatened,” Sanders said at his weekly news conference. “I don’t mind getting death threats. I get them every week. But a kid, it’s not good. ... He does not deserve a death threat over a game. At the end of the day, this is a game - someone must win, someone must lose. Everybody continues their life the next day. Very unfortunate.”

Sanders said he has forgiven Blackburn and so has Hunter, who doesn’t have a definitive timeline for a return. Sanders said there is no place for the threats directed toward Blackburn and his family. 

“Henry Blackburn is a good player who played a phenomenal game,” said Sanders, whose 19th-ranked Buffaloes (3-0) travel to No. 10 Oregon on Saturday before hosting No. 5 Southern Cal next week. “He made a tremendous hit on Travis on the sideline. You could call it dirty, you could call it he was just playing the game of football. But whatever it was, it does not constitute that he should be receiving death threats."

“I’m saddened if there’s any of our fans, that’s on the other side of those threats," he said. "I would hope and pray not, but that kid was just playing (to) the best of his ability. And he made a mistake. ... Let’s move on. That kid does not deserve that.”

slider img 2Social media users responded favorably to Sander's comments. 

"An adult take on the situation. Refreshing," one user on X wrote. 

Another user wrote, "Deion is a class act."

"Yet another example of why he's a leader and role model for his young men," a user commented. 

One user responded with a tweet of his own with a short video showing a young child with the word "RESPECT" on his cap, lifting it in honor of Sanders. 

"Class act Coach," the user noted. 

Colorado State coach Jay Norvell said Monday that Blackburn, who’s from Boulder, and his family had their address posted on social media. Norvell also added that police were involved given the nature of the comments. 

Colorado's game against Colorado State which ended early Sunday in most parts of the nation drew 9.3 million viewers. It was the most-watched late-night college football game ever on ESPN, the network said.

Using His Platform to Display His Christian Faith

As CBN News has reported, this is not the first time that Sanders, an outspoken Christian, has put his Christian faith on display. Earlier this month, he told sports writers, "First and foremost Lord, I thank you for giving me strength and energy," after the 20.5-point-underdog Buffaloes surprisingly beat the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in Fort Worth.

The former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer and first-year coach of the Pac-12 Buffaloes – after acknowledging God – then repeatedly asked the assembled media members, "Do you believe?" 

When he was introduced as the new head coach of the Buffaloes during a press conference back in December, instead of leading with self-accolades, he praised the Lord.

"Wow. Don't you ever tell me what God ain't. Don't you ever tell me His limits," Sanders said. "Don't you ever tell me what you're up against and what you can't do."

And he wasn't done there, as he expressed profound gratitude to the Almighty.

"Out of all the persons in the world, God chose me," Sanders said. "For that, I thank Him; for that, I love Him; for that, I magnify Him; for that, I glorify Him; for that, I praise Him; for that, I owe Him. Each and every day, I'm trying to please Him."

Spiritual Warfare

Like a previous head football coach at CU, Bill McCartney, and leader of the national Christian men's movement Promise Keepers, Sanders is surrounded by spiritual warfare from anti-God forces that are as intense as the battle on the gridiron.

An atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), sent a letter in January to University of Colorado officials after Sanders arrived in Boulder to start his new job, stating "constitutional concerns" with the coach's faith and influence on football players.

A Christian legal advocacy group threw a penalty flag of its own.

First Liberty Institute is defending "Coach Prime's" religious speech, specifically his praise and glory to God after accepting CU's offer of employment.

Sanders was criticized for inviting staff members and coaches to pray before team meetings.

The FFRF described the following staff members' prayer as "egregious:"

"Lord, we thank You for this day, Father, for this opportunity as a group. Father, we thank You for the movement that God has put us in place to be in charge of. We thank You for each player here, each coach, each family. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen."

"Our attorneys point out that FFRF's warnings rely on an outdated legal test the Supreme Court disavowed in our Coach Kennedy case, Kennedy v. Bremerton. The Court's precedent in Kennedy made clear that public school employees may engage in religious expression and exercise," First Liberty said.

As the Supreme Court noted in Kennedy, "the Constitution and the best of our traditions" counsel against "censorship and suppression…for religious and nonreligious views alike," the nonprofit law firm noted. 

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CBN News is a national/international, nonprofit news organization that provides programming 24 hours a day by cable, satellite and the Internet. Staffed by a group of acclaimed news professionals, CBN News delivers stories to over a million viewers each day without a specific agenda. With its headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va., CBN News has bureaus in Washington D.C., Jerusalem, and elsewhere around the world. What began as a segment on CBN's flagship program, The 700 Club, in the early 1980s, CBN News has since expanded into a multimedia news organization that offers today's news headlines