NEW YORK – For 12 dominating seasons, Walter Jones was the definition of cool, calm and collected, no matter how hectic things got for the Seahawks’ nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle.
In fact, his former line mates used to marvel at how little Jones would sweat while doing so much.
Saturday, however, he was losing his trademark cool while awaiting word on whether he has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“When they called me, I was sitting there with my son,” Jones said of Walterius, 14. “He was telling me, ‘Calm down. Just calm down, dad.’ That last hour is just so tough. You kind of have to turn the TV off, because everybody’s talking about it and they’re predicting.
“And you’re like, ‘Man.’ They (the selection committee) had watched you play, but you still have to play the what-if game. You don’t want to be a disappointment to your son. It was a very emotional moment there with me and him.”
In the end, everything turned out just as everyone else had anticipated.
Jones is a member of the Class of 2014, along with linebacker Derrick Brooks, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Michael Strahan and defensive back Aeneas Williams. Also in this year’s class are senior-committee selections Ray Guy, the first punter to be elected; and defensive end Claude Humphreys.
The group was voted into the Hall during a nine-hour meeting of the selection committee and then announced during the NFL Honors show at Radio City that was shown on FOX.
The fact that Jones earned the honor in his first year of eligibility was special enough, the fact that it came on the eve of the Seahawks playing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Sunday put the honor even more over the top. Jones played in Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season, but the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It’s going to be special,” Jones said. “For me to be on that field tomorrow, and the Seahawks have a chance to do something very special – something I didn’t get a chance to do – to bring the Super Bowl back home. But these guys are great and they can do some good tomorrow and I’m happy to be a Hall of Famer and to share that with them tomorrow.”
Jones and his fellow members of the Class of 2014 will be recognized during the first commercial break of the first quarter in Sunday’s game.
The Seahawks also were represented in the other honors that were handed out Saturday night. Pete Carroll was a finalist for Coach of the Year, but winner was the Carolina Panthers’ Ron Rivera. The All-Pro duo of free safety
In his session with the media after being announced as the winner, Kuechly acknowledged the other finalists and said, “Obviously everyone knows Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Those guys are both studs.”
And that’s what Jones was during his career. In addition to his franchise-record nine Pro Bowl berths, he also was voted All-Pro six times and to the NFL All-Decade team for the 2000s. The Seahawks retired his No. 71 in 2010, and he will become the 11th member of the team’s Ring of Honor following his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 1.
Now, he has joined wide receiver Steve Largent (1995) and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy (2012) as the only members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played their entire career with the Seahawks.
“I can’t describe it,” Jones said. “You work so hard and it’s a situation where you play the game for so long, and you know if you work hard at it you can go out there and be consistent and play. But at the moment, you couldn’t do anything but wait for the phone call.”
Looking for something to equate that hour that seemed endless to, Jones opened for his background in another sport.
“It almost felt like going out for the basketball team and you have to wait to see if you made the A-team or the B-team,” Jones said with a laugh. “It’s like, ‘I know I did good, but did I make it?’ ”
Walter Jones has always been an A-team player, from the time the Seahawks selected him in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft until Saturday – when he took his rightful place among the best to ever play the game.