CANTON, Ohio — Michael Irvin and Steve Mariucci have already gone on record as saying that Deion Sanders was the best athlete they’ve seen grace the football field. Add Jerry Jones to that chorus.
Just as master of ceremonies Chris Berman was introducing the seven new Hall of Famers on stage at Fawcett Stadium, Jones was holding court up in the press box to talk about his memories of Sanders and what he meant to his Cowboys teams in the mid-90s, and agreed that Sanders was the best athlete he’s ever had in his time as Cowboys owner
“He’s a freak relative to his ability to accelerate,” Jones said. “And of course his speed. Nobody had football speed like Deion, which is acceleration in shorter yardage type situations. … He had very, very good awareness. He knew how to use it, knew his angles. So you add all that up.
“You’re talking about real freakish abilities when you’re talking about a guy like Deion. And he used it so well. He applied it to football really well. I think I should mention that he really worked to get better. He was a hard worker as a player.”
And just at that moment, Jones looked out onto the stage below and paused as Sanders was first introduced to the crowd. Then he continued, explaining how he would jump at the opportunity to again be able to add a player of Sanders’ calibre.
“It was a real unique time, and I don’t know that we’ll ever have it again or if I’ll get to be a part of it, to have in place a team with outstanding Hall of Fame players, unique players, and add that,” Jones said of signing Sanders in 1995. “To step out and add that piece. I would pray to get a chance to do that again. … I don’t know that I’ll get a chance to do that again.”
Jones, who was wearing his 1995 Super Bowl ring as he spoke, said acquiring Sanders was about one thing — getting that third ring after winning back-to-back titles in 1992 and ’93.
“That had everything to do with going crazy to pay Deion, because I could justify it,” Jones said. “I said he could be the difference in a Super Bowl or for that matter, maybe two or three Super Bowls. He could make that look like a good decision, and did.”
— Aron Angel