What popularized the baby name Deion in the 1990s?

Football player Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders

According to the U.S. baby name data, usage of the name Deion started to rise in the late 1980s:

  • 1991: 61 baby boys named Deion
  • 1990: 60 baby boys named Deion
  • 1989: 70 baby boys named Deion
  • 1988: 16 baby boys named Deion
  • 1987: 8 baby boys named Deion

The name entered the top 1,000 in 1992 and reached peak usage in 1995/1996:

  • 1998: 186 baby boys named Deion [rank: 811th]
  • 1997: 303 baby boys named Deion [rank: 590th]
  • 1996: 566 baby boys named Deion [rank: 411th]
  • 1995: 558 baby boys named Deion [rank: 411th]
  • 1994: 318 baby boys named Deion [rank: 580th]
  • 1993: 241 baby boys named Deion [rank: 663rd]

What accounts for this increase?

The influence of Deion Sanders, who is best known as a professional football player, though he was also a professional baseball player. He was in the NFL for 14 seasons and the MLB for 9 seasons. (Notably, “Sanders is the only man to have played in a Super Bowl and a World Series.”)

He was selected by the Atlanta Falcons fifth overall in the 1989 NFL Draft. That year, and throughout the time he played for Atlanta (1989-1993), usage of the baby name Deion was relatively high in the state Georgia:

  • 1993: 25 of 241 babies named Deion born in Georgia (10%)
  • 1992: 39 of 190 babies named Deion born in Georgia (21%)
  • 1991: 10 of 61 babies named Deion born in Georgia (16%)
  • 1990: 7 of 60 babies named Deion born in Georgia (12%)
  • 1989: 13 of 70 babies named Deion born in Georgia (19%)

The name’s peak usage in the mid-1990s corresponds to the two consecutive years that Deion Sanders was a Super Bowl champion — first with the San Francisco 49ers, second with the Dallas Cowboys.

Over the course of his football career, Sanders was also selected for the Pro Bowl eight times — all during the 1990s — and voted Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Deion?

Sources: Deion Sanders – Wikipedia, Where Sanders goes, teams win – ESPN Classic

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