Three-time Super Bowl-winning former wide receiver Ed McCaffrey made some incredibly complimentary comments on Broncos veteran cornerback Aqib Talib recently, comparing the "chain-snatcher" to the best corner to ever play the game.
"Perhaps the biggest misconception about Deion Sanders, according to... McCaffrey, is that he didn't work hard to achieve the success he had in the NFL," wrote the Denver Broncos website.
"People probably thought he's just this flashy, fast guy who likes to do touchdown dances," McCaffrey says, "but man, he studied every receiver he ever went against, watched a lot of film, worked incredibly hard, kept in great shape [and] played two professional sports there for a while. … Deion was a great teammate, he was a competitor and he worked extremely hard to be the best at his position in the NFL, and he was."
"I see that same type of determination and work ethic and skill set in Aqib."
That wasn't always the case, Talib admitted.
Talib was drafted in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There he learned from the likes of Jon Gruden, Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks, but he "didn't extract his full potential until he was traded to New England."
"My first game [with the Patriots] was going to be against Andrew Luck and my head coach was now Bill Belichick, so me personally, I think that's when I became a real pro," said Talib. "Because knowing I'm going to be playing Andrew Luck, I'm going to be on this stage, it's Sunday night, Bill's my coach, [it's] my first game, I put way more time in at home studying for the game, and then when I got in the game, it was so much easier for me. So from that point on, that became my routine. I feel like that's when I definitely became a professional football player."
"Aqib reached a pivotal point in his career where he had to understand the expectation that was asked of him to perform, on and off the field, as well as the expectation to just go to the next level," said Sanders. "He had the choice either to have a pretty decent NFL career, make a little money and go on with his life, or he could be great. And he chose to increase his study habits, he chose to increase his offseason workouts, his preparation — his whole knowledge of and understanding of the game — and it paid off for him."
"What they have alike is their instincts," said John Elway, the legendary quarterback who dueled with Sanders on the field and the current Broncos president of football operations.. "They both have great instincts. They do a great job reading routes, reading splits and so, instinctually, they're very much alike. Deion was probably a little bit faster, but I think Aqib's more physical. But other than that, they're both great, great corners."