Whenever a figure like Tom Brady, one of the greatest athletes to ever walk the face of Earth, labels you as one of the most influential players of your generation, you don’t take those words lightly. For Shedeur Sanders, the sentiment shared by the 7-time Super Bowl champion was a surprise but an honor.
“Oh wow, I didn’t even know he said that. I didn’t know he said that,” Sanders tells Complex. “That’s crazy. When you have a good connection with people like that and they just know you’re genuine, everything is real and nothing is forced. Hearing Tom say that is hard.”
Brady and Sanders have been able to build a genuine connection over the past few years. It started with a personal workout between the two right after Brady made the move from New England to Tampa and has developed into a relationship where Sanders can lean on Brady for guidance and advice at any point.
“I can call him at any time and he’ll answer the phone. He always responds,” Sanders says.
While Shedeur has leaned on Brady for football-related advice, this time around Brady came to Sanders with a request of his own. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers leader wanted Sanders to be an ambassador of his apparel. Brady launched his Brady Brand in January and this week, the Brady Brand announced Sanders as the newest face of the company. The Jackson State University star quarterback becomes the first ever athlete under the Brady Brand.
Complex caught up with Shedeur Sanders to talk about being the son of Deion, his relationship with Tom Brady, and his NFL aspirations coming from an HBCU.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
First ever athlete under the Brady Brand, how does that feel?
It’s amazing. First and foremost, it’s Tom Brady. The legend. The GOAT. The fact we were able to come together and make something happen is phenomenal.
How did that come about? Did he reach out to you?
Yeah, we go back in time. I worked out with him two years ago. I went to train with him in Tampa when he got there. Ever since then, it’s been real genuine. I can call him at any time and he’ll answer the phone. He always responds. It started off like that and then NIL got introduced. He had a clothing line coming out and it’s a match.
What’s your responsibilities with the Brady Brand?
Just wear it all the time. It’s a real honest relationship. I tell him like ‘ok I like wearing this and that. I dislike this and that.’ It’s a real partnership. I love the clothes.
You’re having a big season, has he impacted how you’ve played coming into this year?
Yeah, he definitely has a part in it. But then again, it’s everything. A lot of things go into the game of football whether it’s your OC your o-line, your players, everybody around you and the whole team. I feel like a little bit of everything on and off the field.
Do you feel like you deserve to be in the Heisman race right now?
Yeah, I’ve been the doing the same thing year after year after year. Right now. the world is just able to see it. I’ve put up a lot of numbers in high school but it’s the same thing, I always went to a smaller school and people always had something to say. We’re getting the same attention and recognition everybody else is getting so all my focus is just winning. Let whatever off the field handle itself but I just wanna be successful and keep winning.
We talked to your dad about two months ago and he said give us a year to play Alabama. Whether it’s Alabama, Georgia, or any big program, how confident are you that can dominate those teams too especially to quiet those who downplay your competition right now?
I’m just not a big namedrop type of guy. You gotta realize I grew up being Deion Sanders’ son so names of people, places, or anything doesn’t really faze me because I know who I am at the end of the day and the team I got around me. I’m not really focused on that. I’m just focused on winning each and every game.
Playing football, your goal is to get to the NFL. How do you feel about your chances even coming from an HBCU?
Coming to Jackson State, I sat down and had a realistic talk with my dad: ‘Pops, how do you think you can get to the league from an HBCU?’ Seeing what Trey Lance did, seeing that he went from FCS to the NFL first round, he was the one who really made me have hope. I know there’s all-time greats before Trey Lance that was able to do it but now in this generation, we gotta see something happen now for us to believe it so seeing him be able to go first round to the 49ers, it’s like ‘ok, now it’s more realistic.’ You can actually be drafted high from a FCS school. It was a no-brainer after that.
Right, I know you’re type of the guy to tell me you’re a one-of-a-kind but if you had to compare yourself to a QB that’s in the league now, who is it?
It’s funny that you really said that because me and a couple people just been sitting around trying to think who I play like. That’s why I say I kind of bring something different to the table, it’s a little bit of everything. I’m able to kill everybody in the passing game and I’m able to scramble so I don’t have a specific guy…
Or somebody you watch then that you mirror your game after…
Of course the GOAT man! C’mon now. For sure, him. He’s definitely someone to model my game after.
Obviously you played for your dad in high school but now in college, what has that been like on a tougher level?
See that’s where people often go wrong. For me, each and every year is the same thing over and over. It’s just a system from my sophomore year in high school to my sophomore year in college. It’s the same thing repeatedly. I don’t feel no different type of way just because everybody is able to see now just because social media has seen it a lot. It’s been the same to me. Everything is normal.
There’s been a lot of narratives and misconceptions about your dad. Tell us about Deion outside of the cameras.
He’s a funny guy. He’s a cheap man. You’ll see, you can look at his Instagram and you’ll see he’s cheap. Sometimes. But I look good though. I stay right. He’s a cheap man but he’s real good and real cool. He’s a realistic person playing for him. Just seeing other players that transferred in from other places, they just know how real of a coach he is. He wouldn’t make you do something he wouldn’t do himself. He’s not going to ask to do something that’s not realistic and that he wouldn’t do because at the end of the day he’s a Black man in society and we know how that go.
You bear his last name and that’s going to follow you your whole life. Has there been any pressure for you playing football with your dad being Deion Sanders?
Yeah of course there’s been pressure. It’s been so normal, it’s been every day of my life. I’d say I felt a little bit of that my freshman year because it’s a new stage and everything is more real but now it’s more my bag year. It’s one of those years that it’s time to lock in. We run everything up. Run the numbers up, run the stats up, and do everything. It’s no pressure.
You have this Brady Brand deal and the Gatorade deal. When Tom Brady says something like you’re one of the most influential people in college football right now, what does that mean to you?
Oh wow, I didn’t even know he said that. I didn’t know he said that. That’s crazy. That’s love but like I said, it’s just people. When you have a good connection with people like that and they just know you’re genuine, everything is real and nothing is forced. Hearing Tom say that is hard.
I thought you knew that already but in fact I sold it short. He didn’t even say college football, he said one of the most influential players of your generation.