Sanders, who also played Major League Baseball on top of his football credentials, is a first-time head football coach at the collegiate level. Previously, he was the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas, for three seasons.
After a week of rare freezing weather had many residents of Jackson, Mississippi, waiting in long lines for bottled drinking water, the atmosphere among 12,000 fans sprinkled within Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium was festive. National Guard soldiers shot a cannon and did pushups after Jackson State scores, and Sanders had a bucket of ice dumped over his head at the end of the game as the people in the stands cheered the win.
But Sanders said during his postgame news conference that he had mixed emotions following the win, believing at the time that his personal items had been stolen during the game.
“For one, the kids played really well,” a visibly upset Sanders said, before continuing, “But while the game was going on, someone came in and stole every darn thing I have in the coaches’ office. Credit cards, wallet, watches. Thank God I had on my necklaces.”
The school later confirmed to ESPN that Sanders’ items were misplaced and had been found.
Sanders, a two-time Super Bowl champion, announced on his podcast “21st and Prime” in September that he would be the next head coach at Jackson State. The Tigers’ game on Sunday was the first in a seven-game spring schedule that runs through April. It was also Jackson State’s first shutout since Sept. 6, 2014.
Jackson State next hosts Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, kicking off the Southwest Athletic Conference season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.