SNELLVILLE -- For years, Deion Sanders was the best cornerback in the NFL.
His swagger and need to be the best translated into a Hall of Fame career spent with the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens.
Now, in retirement, Sanders has a new calling in life. It's to bring TRUTH to thousands of kids in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and now Atlanta, after a tryout session Saturday at the Shiloh Athletic Association.
"This isn't Prime Time, this is Deion," he said. "This is something that's a calling on my life."
TRUTH is a program that will teach the value of sportsmanship, education, structure, discipline and mentoring to young people, while also playing football. Through the program, kids will be offered tutoring, leadership courses, nutrition programs and other activities.
"Our goal is that we want to get these kids to college," Sanders said. "Some will go because of their athletic skills, but we want all to go because of their academic skills, that's why we stress the academics in this program."
The basis of the program is like any youth football association. Kids will participate with the team in a youth football league, receiving uniforms, cleats and other items, while also getting to play games once a week.
"One thing our program offers that many others don't is that their kids are going to be coached by former NFL and college players," Sanders said to a group of parents. "There is no such thing as daddy ball in our program. We know what we're doing and we don't need help coaching the kids. What we do need is the parents to be supportive and encouraging of their kids. We're not going to cuss at their kids and call them names, and we hope the parents would not do the same."
To go along with the football season, there will be camps throughout the summer that kids will be participating in, giving them the basics of how the entire program is going to be run.
"We're going to run most of the same plays at every age level," Sanders said. "We're going to teach these kids how to play the game the right way. At age 5 and 6, linemen will know how to pull on a toss sweep and quarterbacks will know how to call an audible when the defense gives them something."
Sanders admits some parents may be skeptical of the idea, but with the success the program has had in Dallas, the results have already been proven.
As far as the educational part of things, Sanders said that during each weekly summer camp, the kids will also be participating in 90-minute tutoring sessions to ensure they don't fall behind in their schoolwork.
"It's almost like disguising summer school with football," he said. "Plus, they're getting two nutritious meals each day, so it's a win-win for parents."
By the time kids reach high-school age, Sanders believes these kids will be far ahead of their peers and be more successful on the field. His goal, however, is that within the next few years, there is a K-12 academy that is built, so that the kids can stay within the program their whole lives.
"We're opening one in Dallas this year with more than 1,000 kids set to attend," Sanders said. "My goal is that we can bring one here to Atlanta as well. We want to make sure they get to college."
So, why would an NFL Hall of Famer and many former NFL players spend their time mentoring other kids?
"We could be anywhere else right now," Sanders said. "But, we want to be here. These kids are the future, whether it's on a football field or in somewhere else. They're going to make a difference in the world."