Football Hall of Famer Deacon Jones joined with 200 fans to "gamble' at Vegas-style tables and feast on a buffet dinner at a black-tie benefit for the Deacon Jones Foundation last Sunday at the Center Club in Costa Mesa.
Also on the playing field at the event, underwritten by Tiffany & Co.: a silent auction of sports and celebrity memorabilia, including a Super Bowl jersey worn by Joe Montana and a 35-carat ruby and diamond ring once owned by Elvis Presley.
"This is the ring Elvis rolled across an airplane aisle to give to someone who admired it," Jones said, twirling the sparkling bauble on an index finger. "Too bad I wasn't on that plane." (At a minimum bid of $112,000, there were no takers.)
As the former Rams' defensive lineman mingled with guests, he autographed copies of his new book, "The Book of Deacon: The Wit and Wisdom of Deacon Jones" (Seven Locks Press, $14.95) and told them about the goals of the foundation he organized four years ago to provide inner-city kids with scholarships, mentors and technical training.
"Our objective is to build leaders," said Jones, who attended the fund-raiser with his wife, Elizabeth Jones. "The requirement at the end of our program is that the students go back to their [original] communities and practice their skills." So far, students from Los Angeles, Inglewood, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana have been helped by the foundation.