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Originally published Monday, May 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Deion Sanders: the husband, the father, the reality-TV fan

Former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders and his wife, Pilar, have a good life: They live in a 40,000-square-foot house on a big spread in Prosper...

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

On TV

"Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love" 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays on Oxygen.

Former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders and his wife, Pilar, have a good life: They live in a 40,000-square-foot house on a big spread in Prosper, a small town north of Dallas. They have five lovely children, two from Deion's first marriage and three of their own. He has a busy career as a sports commentator for Fox and immediate name recognition from being one of the rare athletes who starred in two professional sports, baseball and football.

They are not, however, immune to phone problems. During what was supposed to be a joint interview for their new Oxygen reality show, "Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love," Pilar's phone cut out and, despite a publicist's efforts to fix the problem, Pilar had to drop out of the interview.

But Deion was still around to talk about the show, which depicts what life is like for the former football star and his wife, a former model. He fielded a few questions during a brief interview.

Q: This is actually a pretty fun, charming show. We're not talking Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston here, are we?

A: When you're dealing with reality [TV], you're dealing with one of two types of shows: the aspirational, which are encouraging, have something for families, or the train wreck waiting to happen. We're the first [type]. We're definitely not a train wreck waiting to happen, by any means.

When we watch television — we're reality-show fans — we'd never see African-American families depicted in a proper light. There's always dysfunction, there's always mediocrity, there's so much chaos in the household. That's not the way we live. Therefore, we approached Oxygen in order to place a show on a network that put us in a proper light.

Q: People are so used to seeing you as an athlete or a sportscaster, they might be surprised to see how well you work in the father role.

A: Most fans only get to see us when they see us doing primarily what they say we do best, and that's get on the field or perform. ... Many athletes are much more than that: not only fathers but entrepreneurs, husbands, businessmen, men amongst their communities.

There are different facets, and we're thanking God for [the opportunity] to expose ourselves in those other facets.

Q: Judging from the two episodes I've seen, it does seem like Pilar does most of the housework and you're the typical guy who likes to avoid it.

A: Well, I'm not gonna fiddle with nothin'. We have roles. Make no mistake, when we're at home, she does a wonderful job. But we do have three housekeepers. I wouldn't allow my wife to be that strenuous with five kids in the household to be maintained, as well as myself, to perform some duties that I don't feel like she should. ... I'm definitely the provider, and I'm old-fashioned about it when it comes to that.

(Note: Still, in the amusing second episode, Pilar proves a point by hiring more outside help to show how much she still does around the house.)

Q: Oxygen is considered a women's network, but I understand that you were a fan before you pitched the show to the network. So when we see you watching "[Talk Sex With] Sue Johanson," that's genuine, right?

A: Sue is good. She's Dr. Ruth with sugar on top. I also watch "Bad Girls Club." I love "Snapped" (a true-crime show about women accused of murder). I wouldn't want to be on an episode of "Snapped," but I do love "Snapped."

Q: One of my favorite scenes is when you greet your daughter Deiondra's date with a baseball bat in your hand. Isn't just dating Deion Sanders' daughter intimidating enough?

A: Yeah, but half the guys come over just to see the home or to meet me. And Deiondra's the afterthought. So I just want to erase that premise right off the bat. ... I try to scare 'em, I try to intimidate 'em. And if I can, then they're the wrong person for my daughter, 'cause she's a strong girl.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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