Former Alabama Crimson Tide and current Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is one of the fastest guys on the field in the NFL.
And apparently that speed carries over into the water as well.
Two years ago Jones was riding a jet ski at Lake Lanier in Atlanta, where he challenged a fellow patron on the water to a race. That patron was legendary former wrestler Ric Flair. And that moment is when the two stars began what has become a strong friendship.
“He blew by me,” Flair said this week, according to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “And I’m like, ‘S—, this guy is a nut.'”
Jones invited Flair to join the team at practice, which he did last spring, speaking to the team and generally just having a good time with all of the players and coaches.
“I’m such a fan,” Flair said. “I honestly have done a lot of stuff with sports teams, but the Falcons treat me with more respect than anything. They are a great bunch of guys. Julio is just unbelievable. So is (Devonta) Freeman. Matt Ryan is a hell of a guy.”
— Julio Jones (@juliojones_11) May 28, 2017
The relationship didn’t end after the practice visit. Flair and Jones remain in steady contact, and Jones sent Flair positive text messages when the wrestling star was in the hospital over the summer.
“When you care about and someone is a good friend, that’s just stuff you do,” Jones said. “Ric, I feel like he hasn’t changed up for no one. He’s been the same since day one, since he was in the limelight as a pro wrestler. Even now, just his mentality and who he is: Find who you are and just be that. He’s always being him. That’s what I admire the most about Ric Flair.”
Fellow Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu kept the love going, paying Flair an awesome tribute with his cleats at the beginning of October.
— Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@Mo_12_Sanu) October 1, 2017
“That was awesome,” Flair said.
And about his good friend Jones, who has gone from a star in Tuscaloosa to a superstar in Atlanta and the entire NFL, Flair put it simply.
“He’s the best receiver in football,” he said.