The Seahawks Legends are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they're in the Seahawks Ring of Honor, and their numbers hang from the rafters at CenturyLink Field. But with the NFL celebrating its 100th season this year, Jones and Largent earned yet another impressive honor, being named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
Starting in November, the NFL began unveiling handful of players at each position as the very best to play the game over the past century, and Largent, who held NFL records for receiving yards, touchdowns and receptions upon his retirement, as well as Jones, widely considered one of the greatest tackles in NFL history, were both named to the All-Time Team.
The NFL 100 All-Time Team was selected by a 26-person panel made up of coaches, team and front office executives, former players and members of the media. In addition to Largent and Jones, two other Seahawks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, safety Kenny Easley and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, were finalists at their positions, though they were not named to the final team.
Jones, a six-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro-Bowler, was a first-round pick in 1997 and quickly established himself as one of the NFL's best at his position. The Aliceville, Alabama native was selected to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2000s, a decade that saw the Seahawks reach new heights, reaching the postseason for five straight seasons from 2003-2007, including the 2005 team that went 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
Jones and the rest of Seattle's offensive line helped the 2005 Seahawks score the most points in franchise history, and that unit paved the way for running back Shaun Alexander's MVP season. And with Jones protecting his blind side, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck established numerous franchise records during his Seahawks career, which saw him play all but two seasons with Jones as his left tackle.
"Walter, he's the best lineman I've ever seen, and I've been around some good linemen," former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said in 2008. "Walter's the best offensive player, Reggie (White) was the best defensive player."
Guard Steve Hutchinson, who played next to Jones for five seasons, said of his former teammate after Jones retired, "He is the epitome of the position. As people look back throughout NFL history, they'll look at Walt as one of the top tackles, if not the top tackle, to play the game."
Unlike Jones, Largent didn't arrive in Seattle with much fanfare. At 5-foot-11 and possessing underwhelming speed, Largent was a fourth-round pick out of Tulsa in the 1976 by the Houston Oilers, but after four preseason games he was traded to the expansion Seahawks for an eighth-round pick. That trade would prove to be one of the all-time bargains in NFL history, with Largent going on to become a seven-time Pro Bowler who posted eight 1,000-yard seasons in a nine-year stretch from 1979-1986, including his 1985 season in which Largent earned first-team All-Pro honors with 79 catches for an NFL-leading 1,287 yards, both career-highs.
By the time Largent retired following the 1989 season, he was the NFL's all-time leader in receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089) and receiving touchdowns (100). Whatever Largent lacked in stature or straight-line speed, he more than made up for with some of the best hands and route-running skills the league has ever seen.
Jerry Rice, the man who would go on to break all of Largent's records and go down as the greatest receiver, and arguably player, in NFL history, said he idolized Largent for his hands and route running.
"What I learned from Steve Largent is how precise he ran his routes," Rice told NFL Films. "He didn't have blazing speed, but it was all about being able to get out of your cuts without taking too many steps and get that separation from the defensive back."
On Largent's hands, Rice said, "It's amazing how he could just snatch the ball out of the air. I idolized him, and I still do."
Hall of Fame defensive back Mike Haynes, who faced off with Largent regularly as a Raiders cornerback in the 1980s, told NFL Films, "He'll put you to sleep then take you deep. He could move his arms and it looks he's running but he's not going any place, but when he came out of his break, he was flying."
In 1988, Largent won the NFL Man of the Year Award—now named for Walter Payton—the only player in franchise history to earn that award, which recognizes both on-field excellence and the player's off-field impact in the community. One of the top honors given to a Seahawks player each year is named for Largent, with the player who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks earning the Steve Largent Award.
Seahawks Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Walter Jones were joined by Courtney Kennedy, daughter of Seahawks Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy, during the 12 Flag raising ceremony prior to the team's Week 4 game against the Colts.