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Prime Time's era: It was a different time

Nov. 9, 2013
Deion Sanders, here in 1984, had to attend North Fort Myers High.
Deion Sanders, here in 1984, had to attend North Fort Myers High. / the news-press file
Sanders wanted to play for Fort Myers High. That he wasn't allowed to did not hurt his football career. / Getty Images


Deion Sanders enrolled at Fort Myers High in 1981 prior to being reassigned to North Fort Myers High because of where he lived, retired Fort Myers High Principal Herbert Wiseman said.

Connie Knight, Sanders’ mother, said she used her mother’s address south of Anderson Avenue (now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) because she wanted her son under Wiseman’s watch, as she trusted him.

“I had a good relationship with Deion, because I coached him with Dave Capel in Pop Warner,” Wiseman said. “I remember we needed to run a play for Deion so we could score on the first play. We ran a reverse, and Deion ran 70-something yards for a touchdown.”

Knight said someone reported the falsified address. Wiseman, who said he was unaware until then of the falsified address, informed Sanders he had to transfer to North Fort Myers.

There, Sanders launched his path to “Prime Time” fame and fortune as an NFL Hall of Fame cornerback.

Former Lee County Superintendent James Browder said there were a number of high-profile athletes in multiple sports who either falsified their addresses or moved in order to attend a different high school under the old system. School Choice, Browder said, helped minimize that because it provided parents and students with more options.

“The reality is, families and kids have made choices forever,” Browder said. “As long as they make the choices based on the rules that are place, I support the parents who do that.

“Some families will move because their son or daughter plays behind an All-State kind of a player. They’ll move to another school. What I want you to understand is the choice system is no different than a boundary system. Families will make decisions. As long as it’s within the rules, I would support it.”

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