NFL News of December 24, 2002

Five teams made a waiver claim on Deion Sanders on Tuesday, blocking the Raiders’ attempts to sign the cornerback out of retirement.

“Only five teams, huh?” Raiders senior assistant Bruce Allen said with a laugh, mindful of the franchise’s many, ahem, adversarial relationships around the NFL.

The San Diego Chargers won the right to move Sanders, 35, to their reserve/retired list from that of the Washington Redskins, who waived him Monday. At 8-7, San Diego has the worst record of the five teams who put in claims; the others were Kansas City (also 8-7), Indianapolis (9-6), Pittsburgh (9-5-1) and Tennessee (10-5).

Of the five, the Titans and Steelers have clinched division titles, while the Colts currently hold one of the AFC’s two wild-card spots. The Chiefs and Chargers still hold slim playoff hopes.

The move cost the Chargers nothing, as Sanders gets no salary while on the retired list. By the time the 1 p.m. PST deadline rolled around, the Raiders were resigned to the fact that some team would scuttle their plans. Players wanted Sanders to join them, but they weren’t heartbroken that he couldn’t.

— John Ryan, San Jose Mercury News “Chargers block Deion Sanders’ return to NFL”

Deion Sanders eventually returned to the NFL, playing for the Baltimore Ravens during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

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