The rivalry between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints runs deep and bitter. That presented a quandary for the family of Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones when he was drafted by Atlanta. Now Jones’ family members, previously diehard Saints fans, have placed all of their fandom and support squarely behind Jones’ Falcons.
Jones’ father, Cal, told Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune that after the draft, there was no question they’d support the Falcons.
“Everybody bought in. Everybody loves him,” the elder Jones said. “So whatever he's doing, he's going to have 100 percent support."
Jones exploded onto the scene after being selected by the Falcons in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft. He finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting after three interceptions this season, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
One of those touchdowns was a 90-yard interception return against his family’s former favorite team in Week 3. It was a remarkable homecoming for Jones, a decade after the Monday Night Football matchup between the Falcons and the Saints that marked the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to his pick-six, Jones posted nine tackles and two pass breakups in that game. Jones was named the Defensive Player of the Month for September, partly because of his success against his hometown team.
Deion’s uncle, Lucian Miller, thinks Jones will repeat that pick-six against Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
“His dad might not tell you, but he's going to pick [Brady] off and bring it back to the house, “ Miller said, via Holder.
"What did I tell y'all when he was coming here? I told them he was going to pick Drew Brees off and take it to the house. And what he did? He did it."
The Saints mean a lot to the city of New Orleans, which makes it even more noteworthy that Jones’ family switched its loyalty. Before that Week 3 matchup in New Orleans, Jones told SB Nation what that first game back in the Superdome meant to the city.
“The Saints mean a lot to the city, and it was a point in time where they didn’t even think the Superdome would be back open because of everything that happened,” Jones said. “And everyone was just happy being able to have the Saints back in their lives.”
When Jones and his Falcons teammates take the field against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, they’ll do so with the unwavering support of Jones’ family of former Saints fans.