By now you’ve heard the big news in football, which is that Deion Sanders, the all-world defensive back, and Jerry Jones, owner of the Cowboys, were married in a quiet ceremony just outside of Dallas.

No. Wait. It wasn’t a wedding, it was a contract. Anyhow, they are together now, for better or for worse, Mr. I Got The Money and Mr. I Got The Time. Many feel this union will ensure the Cowboys another Super Bowl, once Deion actually joins the team, which, after baseball, ankle surgery, TV commitments and dance lessons, should be sometime in 2007.

Whoa. Did we say ankle surgery? Yes. Jones shelled out $35 million — $13 million up front — for a guy who has to go in the shop for repairs. Most people spend that kind of money, they at least want a new model. But Deion and Jerry have a special relationship. According to Deion, it happened one night a few weeks ago, when Deion was sitting around his hotel room, watching TV.

“Who comes on but Jerry,” Deion explained dreamily, as if recalling the Burning Bush. “And he said, ‘Deion, if you’re out there . . .’ And I said,
‘I’m here, Jerry, I’m here . . .’

“That’s the first time I saw in his eyes that he was sincere and that this could be a beautiful relationship. And that’s when I decided that I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy.”

Wow. Good thing for Jerry the TV had clear reception. Otherwise, Deion might be playing for the Home Shopping Network. Deep in the heart of No Taxes

Now, as in all things concerning Deion, there were many people involved in this wedding — and not just Jerry, who, at last glance, was calling Regis and Kathie Lee to see whether they wanted to interview him.

There were, for example, the Best Men, Dallas players like Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Jay Novacek, who restructured their contracts to make room for Deion’s monumental salary. There was the rich daddy, Nike, whose millions went from Jerry’s pockets into Deion’s pockets without even being laundered. And there were the jealous lovers, Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy of the 49ers, the team that employed Deion last year and wanted to sign him back, until they realized they’d have to sell their stadium to afford him.

This is what Policy said to Deion when he found out he’d become a Cowboy:
“Good luck to you personally, and may your team fail.”

You wonder how Deion responded. “Good luck to you, Carmen, and may your corned beef get stuck in your throat.”

By the way, Deion didn’t make his decision rashly. He thought long and hard about leaving his dear old 49ers, whom he’d been with for three whole months. Finally he decided he had to go, because, and I am quoting here:
“Texas doesn’t have a state income tax.”

You have to admire that kind of logic.

Did I mention Jerry Rice, the 49ers’ star receiver? When he was told of Deion’s defection, he decided to — surprise! — blame the media.

“You guys turned this into a bleeping circus,” he said. “You disrespected
(our players) and that bleeping bleeps me off!”

Naturally, he pointed no fingers at his owners, who chased Deion the way a drooling dog chases lamb chops. No matter. It wouldn’t be a Deion story if someone didn’t blame the media.

Anyhow, Deion will take his Prime Time act to Dallas — for at least five years. He wants to play defense, offense, special teams, fly the team plane, and choreograph the cheerleaders. All this, of course, after his ankle heals.

Said Deion: “I don’t want to do my dance and have my ankle not hold up.”

You couldn’t invent a quote like that. May they live happily ever after

For those of you who missed Deion’s first Dallas news conference — so did I. To be honest, I had more important things to do, like weep over the Lions. But I can imagine . . . JERRY: Ladies and gentlemen, today we moved our franchise closer to the Super
— say, do you photographers need me to move in for better lighting? MEDIA: Deion! DEION! DEION: Yes, you slime. What is it? REPORTER: Did outside sponsorships have anything to do with this deal? DEION: That question is so stupid, it must come from a Reebok person. Endorsements had nothing to do with why I got my Nike feet down here to Dallas, home of the Pepsi Generation. JERRY: Is there anyone here from “60 Minutes”? REPORTER: Deion, will you tackle in Dallas? DEION: Tackle? Nobody’s paying me to tackle! They want tackling, that’ll be extra. JERRY: Say, is that Ted Koppel? . . .

You get the drift. The most incredible thing about this deal is that Deion doesn’t even have to give up baseball! He still gets to scratch and spit until October, then join the Cowboys midway through the season.

Some of you might wonder whether one man is worth all this fuss. Does Deion guarantee a Super Bowl? No. He didn’t go to any Super Bowls when he was with Atlanta. In fact, the only way he got there was by joining a team last year that probably would have gone anyhow.

But this is sports in the ’90s. You don’t need a reason, just a checkbook, a camera and a corporate sponsor. So everyone altogether, let’s congratulate Jerry and Deion on their new marriage in Cowboy Land. Yippee-ki-yo!

Somewhere, Tom Landry just threw up.

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