Sunday, August 7, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

For Atlanta Braves fans, the Tomahawk Chop and the accompanying chant are permanent gifts from Deion Sanders. The best cheer in sports originated with Florida State Seminols football, where, under Coach Bobby Bowden, Deion Sanders played like few others ever have. When Sanders joined the Atlanta Braves as an outfielder in 1991, he taught fans the Chop. Alost instantly, it caught on and will be with the Braves forever.

The chop and chant have been packaged as just the Tomahawk Chop, something unique to baseball, and a signature icon of the Braves. From the beginning it had quintessential grass roots appeal: once started, it took on a life it’s own.  Even now, when the Chop cranks up, Deion is there in spirit.

I often felt like a kid when I saw Deion Sanders play football or baseball. Much of Sanders’ swagger reminds me of baseball’s immortal Satchel Paige. I keep a list of Satchel’s aphorisms on the wall and read them when I get exhausted with things out of my control
“Don't look back,” Satchel advised.Something might be gaining on you.”
After his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame, I pledged to make a list of Sanders’ sayings. The athlete who could back up his talk with success deserves a place on my wall alongside folks like Hemingway, Robert Kennedy, Stonewall Jackson, Osceola, Hunter S. Thompson and, of course, Satchel.

That Sanders now devotes much of his life to children is no surprise. I saw him during his FSU days playing with kids including my then six-year-old son, and the joy he generated was inspiring. Children love to play with their heroes.

Deion makes me laugh when even I don’t want to. He made my little boy laugh when things were tough for him. The flamboyance is still contagious. The skills are remarkable. And, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Deion doesn’t take himself very seriously.

The Braves are back in town this week and I’ll be in the stands for at least one game. The Chop will manifest each time there’s a rally. The background music driving the Chop is none other than FSU’s band, The Marching Chiefs.

The Tomahawk Chop. Thanks, Deion.

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