Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Falcons' Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home


NEW ORLEANS -- Eleven years ago, Deion Jones had to run. Hurricane Katrina forced Jones (who was only 11 at the time) and his parents to evacuate New Orleans and begin living a nomadic existence in Mississippi and Texas before eventually moving back home and reuniting with other family members and friends.

Jones ran again Monday night. But this time, in the same building that served as a shelter for hurricane victims, the Falcons' rookie linebacker lived out a dream, not a nightmare.

He intercepted a tipped pass thrown by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees -- who hadn't been intercepted in 305 consecutive attempts -- and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown, cementing the Falcons' 45-32 win over the Saints in the Superdome.

These are the cool moments that only sports can provide.

A shot of Deion Jones' cleats up close, via the Falcons.

"It was electric. It was a dream come true," Jones said.

Brees' pass, intended for receiver Michael Thomas, was broken up by rookie defensive back Brian Poole. The ball popped up, Jones grabbed it and suddenly his feet seemed to have jets. He sprinted 90 yards in the other direction.

"I was kind of tired at the end," he said.

Magic cleats carried him.

They were decorated, with the abbreviation "NOLA" on one side and a large red 'X' on the other, along with a random letters and numbers. The 'X' symbolized what rescue workers painted on the sides of homes after they were searched for survivors. Among the survivors was Jones' grandmother, Montrell Jones, who stubbornly wouldn't leave her home and had been missing for a few days until later being found. She eventually was found and the family reunited in Houston, although she later passed away.

Jones was mobbed by teammates on the sideline after the touchdowns, particularly by Weatherspoon, who picked him up.

Jones told him, "That’s for his grandma.”

"To come back home like that is special after what he and his family went through," Weatherspoon said. "To ball out like that on the big stage ... and he makes the play to win the game."

Jones had several family members at the game, and said, "I was glad my whole family was here to see it and be a part of it. I got great support from the guys on the sideline. ‘Spoon got a little emotional, but it was great."

He said he thought about decorating his cleats early in the week, talking to Falcons assistant equipment manager Kenny Osuwah.

"They had a bunch of designs and I went with this one," he said. "I just did it as a reminder. It was my tribute to my city -- but in the opposite colors (of the Falcons)."

A happy moment for Jones and his family.

EARLIER: My full column on the Falcons' win is linked here.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.