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A look back at Big Walt’s wonderful weekend adventure
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Ho-hum, another Seahawk tucked securely – and eternally – into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ho-hum? Hardly. Walter Jones’ Wonderful Weekend Adventure in Canton, Ohio – co-starring an array of family members and former teammates and coaches – was anything but ho-hum. It was historic. After not having a career-long representative in the Hall for the first 19 years of the franchise’s history, the Seahawks finally got one in 1995 when wide receiver Steve Largent made it in his first year of eligibility. Then, it was another 17 years until Largent finally got some company when defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy finally made it in 2012.
There were several memorable – if somewhat leftover – moments from Jones’ Hall of a weekend. And you can start with Largent and Kennedy being on hand to share it with him.
“I can’t tell you how much that means to me,” Jones said after Saturday night’s thank-you marathon at Fawcett Stadium. “It was great to have so many of my teammates here to share this with me. But to be the third (career-long) Seahawk to get in, and to have the other two guys be Steve and Tez, it’s just an amazing feeling.”
And it’s fitting because Jones was an amazing player – the best left tackle of his generation and, pardon the bias, the best to ever play the position.
Here are a few snapshots from two days of interviews, the slipping on his Gold Jacket on Friday, riding through the streets of this slice-of-American community during the Grand Parade on Saturday morning and, of course, the induction ceremony on Saturday night:
Largent vs. Richard Sherman – Who wouldn’t pay to see this past versus present matchup? Largent, who was the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches when he retired after the 1989 season, was asked during Friday afternoon’s interview session how he would fare in a matchup with Sherman, the Seahawks’ two-time All-Pro cornerback.
ARichard Sherman for sure.
“The difference was Mike didn’t talk as much on the field. But they both are good cornerbacks. Really good.”
Among the many thanks – Jones was all in when it came to thanking those who helped him along the way as well as during his career, and a couple of them came with laugh tracks.
“Matt, I’m sorry I slapped you at training camp,” Jones said of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was in the audience. “But because I protect the quarterbacks, I have the right to slap the quarterbacks.”
“Hutch,” he said to Steve Hutchinson, the Hall of Fame-worthy guard who played next to him in such dominating fashion from 2001-2005, “I promise there won’t be any Caesar salads at the party tonight. That’s an inside joke.”
That’s good, because some things just need to stay inside.
Among the role models – The left tackle Jones has been compared to most is Anthony Munoz, who was among the Hall of Famers sitting on the stage during the ceremony.
“A special thanks to the legendary Antony Munoz,” Jones said. “In high school, coach Mac (Pierce McIntosh) gave me a video of offensive line drills. After watching that video and witnessing the greatness that is Anthony Munoz, it inspired me to be on the O-line. I realized that athletes could be on the O-line.”
But two former NFL line coaches who followed the careers of both tackles say that even Munoz didn’t have all the traits that allowed Walter Jones to become the player he was.
The highlights of the highlights – Every time Jones’ name was mentioned over the weekend – which was a lot – it was accompanied by a video of him doing his thing. And the thing about that was how effortless Jones made it look. Everything. The power of his run blocking. The ballet-like moves of his pass protection. How he remained so steady while everything else was coming unglued around him.
It provided an anatomy of the blocker that Jones was, because of …
His arms: They are long, and powerful. Even on those rare occasion when slightly beaten at the snap, Jones could neutralize the opponent with a quick, decisive thrust of his arms.
“It was something to behold.”
His feet: Yes, they’re big. Size 15. But also quick, and Jones was light on them. It was Hutchinson who first likened the niftiness of Jones’ feet to those of a running back.
“His feet were un-be-lievable,” said Robbie Tobeck, the Seahawks’ center from 2000-06.
John Randle, the defensive lineman who played the final three seasons of his Hall of Fame career with Jones (2001-03), concurs.
“Walt was a guy who had great feet,” said Randle, who also was on the stage Saturday night. “Because of that, he never got out of position. He never made a lot of mistakes, so catching Walt out of position was very hard to do.
“He is what you want to model your offensive tackles to be. He looked the part and, more importantly, always played the part.”
The mental approach: Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ current Pro Bowl quarterback, has to love this one, because Jones parroted one of Wilson’s favorite mantras during his interview session on Friday.
“I always felt my preparation was a key to my success,” Jones said.
That’s close enough to Wilson’s line, as the separation also was in the preparation for the latest Seahawk to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.