CANTON, Ohio – By the time Walter Jones called it a night after the Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket Dinner on Friday evening it already was Saturday.
But there Jones was, a few hours later, climbing into a blue convertible to begin his trip down Cleveland Avenue of downtown Canton, in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Grand Parade.
“I got a little bit of sleep,” Jones said while sitting on the rear deck above the backseat. “But I got a chance to see all the guys last night again. They came over and hung out. So I was able to relax and kind of get back to the room early.”
But that’s what this weekend is all about for Jones, spending time – and sharing the moment – with those who have been with him along his path to becoming the third career-long Seahawks to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Saturday morning, one moment included his 14-year-old son Walterius, who was seated next to his father during the parade and will present Jones in a video-taped segment during Saturday night’s ceremony. Included in the car behind Jones and his son, a red vintage Chevrolet Caprice Classic, were his daughter and Walterius’ twin, Waleria; and his mother, Earline.
This moment in Jones’ life where he is achieving the pinnacle of his professional career comes at an optimum time, because his children will remember it for the rest of their lives and his mother gets to see her son enshrined in a place where only the best of the best are allowed.
“I’m just so excited,” Earline Jones said from the passage seat of the vintage Chevy. “I prayed, but just never thought this day would come. But I’m just bubbling.”
So was his daughter. “I’m very proud. I’m very blessed,” Waleria said. “I’m just proud of him and I’m happy to have a father like him. It’s just a blessing.”
There were other members of the Jones’ family as well as friends sprinkled liberally throughout the crowd that lined the street for the 2.2-mile parade. Almost 50 were packed into one section. There also were people wearing No. 71 Jones jerseys and Walter Jones Hall of Fame T-shirts at other junctures. They cheered wildly as he passed and Jones waved, pointed and, of course, smiled in acknowledgement.
And he did it while coming off an exciting, but sleep-deprived, evening after getting his Gold Jacket.
“When I finally laid across the bed it felt like I had just gotten done playing a football game,” Jones said. “I was pretty spent by the time I got to the room.”
One of Jones’ biggest questions leading up to that is just what Walterius will say in his taped presentation. Walter has asked, but Walterius isn’t saying. And he wasn’t about to give anything away on Saturday morning – in part because he has yet to see the edited version.
“I haven’t let anybody know, because I want it to be a surprise,” said Walterius, a freshman at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland a defensive end/linebacker on his middle school football team. “But it’s going to be nice. It’s going to be heart touching. It’s going to bring some tears to pops. All I can say is, we’ll see.”
Regardless, Jones was filled with anticipation on Saturday morning as he looked toward Saturday night.
“Every moment of this weekend is something that you look forward to,” he said. “And I’m really looking forward to tonight. I think tonight is the big thing. I’ve prepared my speech and I’m looking forward to it.”
Jones also is sharing this weekend with Steve Largent and Cortez Kennedy – the other career-long Seahawks who are in the Hall of Fame. Largent was a member of the Class of 1995, while Kennedy was inducted two years ago.
Largent also was in the parade – as entry No. 80 in the parade order, his uniform number during his 14-season career with the Seahawks. Largent also was on hand when Kennedy was inducted.
“As long as they keep inducting Seahawks into the Hall of Fame, I’ll come back whenever they call,” Largent said from his vehicle. “And this is a lot less stressful than when I was getting inducted.”