When Black America Has a Dog in the Fight: Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes Football Team

I walked into a Black barber shop here in Washington D.C. on Saturday and found that I had stumbled into the cheering section for the Colorado University Buffaloes football team. More than a dozen men, all African American, were watching intently, applauding, high-fiving and signifying–you know how we talk to the television as if the people appearing on the screen can hear us–as the head coach Deion Sanders, Prime Time, led his young charges to another victory.

“Get ‘em, Prime!”

“Them Colorado boys are cooking!”

“Coach Prime ain’t playin’!”

I have lived, off and on, in Washington D.C. for the better part of a decade, dating back to 1993, and never have I heard this level of enthusiasm for the Washington Wizards or the Washington Commanders nee Redskins. In fact, the last time I could recall Black Washingtonians supporting a team with such fervor was in the mid 1980s, when the Georgetown Hoyas, led by Patrick Ewing and John Thompson, were running roughshod over college basketball.

If social media is to be believed, then the scene in my D.C. barber shop was repeated all across the country as African Americans, from Boulder to Baltimore, cheer on Sanders’ and his team the way that our grandparents cheered Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, while listening to the radio announcers detail each blow he delivered to Max Schmelling.in the 1938 rematch.

How and why the Colorado Buffaloes became Black America’s Team virtually overnight.


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