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Walter Jones gives thanks where it was due
CANTON, Ohio – It’s official, Walter Jones can say more than five words at a time and even talk beyond the 10-minute time limit that the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees are supposed to adhere to.
The proof came Saturday night during Jones’ acceptance speech in the nationally-televised ceremony at Fawcett Stadium.
On a night when fellow inductees Aeneas Williams (25 minutes) and Derrick Brooks (24 minutes) not only exceeded the time limit, but more than doubled it, Jones went 17½ minutes – a marathon of chattiness for a player who spoke more with actions than his words during a 13-season career with the Seahawks.
After being presented by his 14-year-old son, Walterius, who also helped him remove the hood from his bust that will be enshrined in the Hall of eternity, Jones began with a fitting, “Wow.”
He later added, “Football has been a blessing. It has changed my life and those around me.”
Jones thanked his mother, Earline; and his kids, Walterius and his twin sister, Waleria. He told his mother that she was “the real Hall of Famer.” He had promised to give a shout out to Waleria, who he called “my beautiful daughter” and then offered, “Everyone watching tonight, go follow my daughter on Instagram.”
He then moved on to his siblings, former coaches and teammates and the Seahawks’ 12th Man fans.
“What a wonderful group of fans,” he said. “I truly loved playing for you all. … You complete the organization.”
“To the Seattle media, thank you,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every interview. Seriously. You were always fair to me and appreciate the role of what we do.”
To ESPN.com’s Mike Sando, who presented Jones at the selection committee meeting the day before the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII in February, Jones said, “Thank you Mike Sando for presenting me to the Hall of Fame. Although I didn’t need any help.”
With that, Jones laughed – one of many light moments on his night of nights.
Jones had said he planned to have fun with his speech, while thanking those who needed to be thanked, and he accomplished both goals.
But he still couldn’t elude the comments on how little he had talked though the years.
During the commercial break before Walterius presented his father, Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent offered, “When I first met Walter when (the Seahawks) went to the Super Bowl in 2006, I could hardly get him to speak a word. … He’s definitely a quiet-type person. But seeing him here at the Hall of Fame, he’s loosened up a little bit and he’s a very fun, very smart, very affable guy.”
Tom Lovat, one of the line coaches Jones played for with the Seahawks, said last week that he wouldn’t miss attending the ceremony because, “I want to see Walt say more than five words.”
In the end, however, it was Jones who got the last word and the last laugh.
“Football is a bond that keeps a family together, and provided opportunities where there was just inspiration and determination,” he said. “The thing I’ve learned along this incredible journey, I’m only cheering for the rest of my life but pass it along to anyone that loves the game.”