CANTON, Ohio – Walter Jones has blown his cover.
The imagine of Jones as a man of few words came tumbling down Saturday night when the Seahawks’ nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle was chatty, charming and witty during his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech at Fawcett Stadium.
The Walter Jones that thanked his way through a lengthy list of contributors to his Hall of Fame career was the affable person his teammates knew – but a side Jones rarely allowed the media to see.
“But the Walt we saw tonight is the Walt we knew; the Walt who was in the hotel with us the Saturday night before games, sitting around the snack table and joking and cracking each other up. All the inside jokes. That’s the Walt we knew. So what he did tonight wasn’t a shock to us.”
In addition to Hutchinson, the other members of the Seahawks’ line from their 2005 Super Bowl team also were in the audience to see Jones fracture the façade – center Robbie Tobeck, right guard Chris Gray and right tackle Sean Locklear.
They all made the trip to see Jones achieve the highest pinnacle of their chosen career, and the effort was worth it because of how genuine and sharing Jones was in his speech.
“He told his story, and it was great,” Hutchinson said. “Walt is a private person. He’s all about family. But he opened up and let everybody see a little bit about what’s going on in his life. I’m really proud of him and it was great to share it with him.”
For Jones, his life now will forever come with the “HOF” designation after this weekend’s enshrinement activities. As eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy said after he was inducted in 2012, “People can call me whatever they want now, but they have to include the ‘HOF.’ ”
Jones couldn’t agree more, and becoming the third career-long Seahawk to enter the Hall – along with Kennedy and wide receiver Steve Largent (Class of 1995) – makes it all the better.
“Exactly. Now you have to say, ‘That’s Hall of Famer Walter Jones,’ ” he offered. “I’m very happy. To be here, representing a great franchise and to be the third Seahawk to be in the Hall of Fame is amazing. Then to see all the guys who were here to support me that really made it special.”
“You appreciate that,” he said. “Those guys have shown me so much, so for me to be standing on that stage and these guys to be here, it’s been fun. I’m very happy with the way it went.”
Then there’s the matter of the bust – or busts. One will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Jones gets to keep the other. It was a labor of love for Jones, who had to sit for six hours while it was being molded.
“It looks just like me,” he said. “I’m impressed with it.”
Just as Jones’ former teammates were once again impressed with the performance of the man that the bust represents.