DALLAS - On Saturday, Deion Sanders will be going someplace Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel also wants to go someday.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sanders is expected to be voted into the Hall in his first year of eligibility.

But in Sanders' opinion, the only way Samuel ever will get in there is as a visitor.

Despite the fact that Samuel's 36 interceptions over the last five seasons are far and away the most by any player in the NFL, and despite the fact that Samuel finished tied for the most interceptions by a cornerback this season (seven), even though he missed four games with injuries, his name didn't come up yesterday when "Prime Time" rattled off his list of the league's top corners.

He mentioned five names - the Packers' Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, the Jets' Darrelle Revis, the Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha and the Chiefs' Brandon Flowers.

"How about Samuel?" I asked Sanders during the Super Bowl Media Day lunch break.

"How about him?" he said.

Earlier this season, Samuel was miffed when Sanders, a studio analyst for NFL Network, gave him a backhanded compliment, calling him the best "off corner" in the league.

Samuel responded to Sanders' latest comments last night on Twitter. "What Deion talking about? As you can see, Deion has no credibility. He don't have a clue!" Samuel tweeted.

Samuel is regarded as one of the league's best ballhawks. But he is not really considered a "shutdown" corner like Revis or Asomugha. He doesn't like to play press coverage, and relies on his impressive instincts and anticipation skills to pick off passes often intended for receivers other than the man he is covering.

Still, according to STATS, he allowed only 20 completions and one TD this season. Only Asomugha (13) and Revis (19) gave up fewer completions on passes targeted at them.

Yet, when the Associated Press All-Pro team came out last week, Samuel wasn't a first- or second-team selection. Asomugha and Revis were the first-team corners and Woodson and Patriots rookie Devin McCourty were the second-team selections.

"He's a hater," Samuel said after Sanders made the "off corner" comment. "All I got to say is if I'm not getting the ball caught on me, whether I'm off [the receiver] or on, what difference does it make?"

Sanders said yesterday he was befuddled why Samuel took offense to his earlier comment.

"I like the kid," he said. "I think he's a tremendous athlete, I really do. I don't understand to this day [why he got upset]. How can you say a guy is the best 'off corner' in the game and they get upset? That was a compliment, man. But I wish him the best."

Sanders wishes him the best, but he stands by his opinion that Samuel is not one of the game's top five corners.

"There's a difference between a good corner and an [elite] corner," he said. "Woodson, Revis, guys like that, they're [elite], man. You tell 'em to take this guy, they'll say, 'I got him.' Tell them to take that guy, they'll say, 'I got him.' Left side, right side, in the slot, doesn't matter.

"It's like the difference between a first- and second-down [running] back and an every-down back. Marshall Faulk was an every-down back.

"Same thing with a corner. You got a [top] corner, he's going to go to this side or that side. Wherever the best receiver is. He can do it all. That's a corner. That's what I love."

Sanders also thinks Samuel needs to find better motivation than induction into the Hall of Fame.

"That's the wrong approach," he said. "You should play the game because you enjoy it. To play the game because you're concerned about how other people feel about you? I would never give somebody that ability. The Siskel-and-Ebert media? I don't care how you feel about me. Because I know how I feel about me."

So, you don't care whether you ever get in the Hall of Fame?

"It would be a great honor," he said. "But I didn't play this game to be in the Hall of Fame. I didn't ever say to myself, 'One day, I'm going to be in the Hall of Fame.' I played this game so that I could take care of my mama for the rest of my life." *