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Walter Jones: ‘I still want to play this game’

Post by Doug Conarroe on Oct. 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm with 14 Comments »
October 29, 2009 10:14 am

Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones talked with reporters this afternoon about the team’s announcement that he had been placed on the season-ending, injured reserve list because of his surgically repaired left knee.

And Jones didn’t exactly give a retirement speech, when asked about the prospects of possibly playing again next season.

“My next step is to continue to keep working and try to get back. I still want to play this game. I still have the love. I like the competition. I still want to go out and compete with the guys, so that’s my No. 1 goal right now, is to continue to keep doing what I’ve got to do to get back on the field for next year.”

The nine-time Pro Bowler helped the Seahawks reach their only Super Bowl four years ago. And before ending his season on the injured reserve last year, Jones had not missed a game since his rookie season, a 10-year period that included 156 straight starts.

Part of the issue with Jones, 35, is he has a kidney condition that does not allow him to take anti-inflammatory medication, which could help him better deal with the pain in his knee.

“I think it was a decision they made,” Jones said about being placed on IR. “And I’m cool with that because it’s tough because I’m been working hard trying to get back on the football field, and everybody knows the limitations I have with the stuff I can take to get back.


“So I just had to take that, and to still continue to do the things I have to do to get back on the football field.”

Jones said the issue with him trying to get on the field was a situation where he always had to deal with pain in his knee. He said most times during his rehabilitation effort he did not tell anyone he had pain in his knee because his No. 1 focus was trying to get back on the football field, and believed he probably should have said something sooner instead hoping the pain would go away.

“That’s the most part of it,” Jones said. “Just feeling comfortable enough to go back out there and play football. I was always dealing with the situation where I could never get out there and consistently practice, day in and day out where I felt good about the knee.

“The pain never did subside,” Jones went on. “So I decided to say something and say that, ‘Hey, something still is not right.’”

Jones said when he came into training camp he was feeling good about practicing and looked forward to it. And when he experienced back spasms early on he believed it was due to being over excited about returning to the field.

Jones knows he does not fully control when the end of career will be, but he also believes he can come back from the injury, and will continue to work toward getting back on the field for the rest of this year even if it means considering another possible surgery to fix the issue.

“This is what I love,” he said. “This is a game that I’ve put so much pride in and want to be the best at, so I still want to come out and do my job and play this game.”

And about going out on his terms, Jones had this to say.

“It plays into it a little bit,” Jones said. “I think the thing about it is I still love the game. I still love playing the game. So that’s my approach — that I still can go out there and compete with the best of them. So I know that if I take this time and get myself right I still can go out and compete with the best of them.”

General Seahawks
Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. Eric, are we likely going to be looking at salary issues in 2010-11 that may require the Seahawks to waive WJ if he doesn’t want to retire?

    This could get messy……….. Hopefully either Walt will be obviously healthy, choose to retire or their will indeed be no cap as has been speculated.

  2. From a purely business perspective, the Seahawks have to be somewhat sure that he is progressing enough for them to be able to pencil him in as our starting LT on opening day next year. I know he makes about $7 million per season (not sure what the exact cap hit for ’10 will be?). That’s a lot of space to be allotted for a question mark.

    My number one hope is that he can come back and be our LT in ’10 (and have a back up to him as a #1 pick to take over in ’11).

    If he can’t, I would hope he and the team would reach an agreement about retirement. I believe that if Walt were to retire — that the Seahawks could technically say they would want a portion of his signing bonus back. This would be unclassy in my opinion and could get ugly and none of us want that. And if he did retire, I think his cap hit for ’10 would vanish and we could have an extra (approx.) $7 million to play with in free agency. I know there are team settlements and I hope that would happen where Walt’s career ends on a positive note. I only hope he’s not one of those stubborn athletes (although he’s reserved the right to be) who are done and everyone sees it but they refuse to believe it and keep playing and end up being a shell of their former self. Kind of like Willie Mays misjudging fly balls as a New York Met. Ugly. And being forced to release him would be bad with respect to the salary cap. Releasing him would count as a cap hit. I don’t know what will happen…

  3. BobbyAyala says:

    Clearly, the heart is willing. Unfortunately that’s only part of the equation. Hopefully he can make it back at some point, but there’s no question in my mind he’s the best player ever to put on a Seahawks uniform, and if he’s played his last game, he gave it everything he had.

    Big Walt will be missed.

  4. StevenMunn says:

    Ugh, so when are the good times going to happen for the Seahawks? Im just waiting for good things to happen for Seattle.

    Its bound to happen right? With all of the bad luck and stuff, theres bound to be years of success and fortune around the corner. Its just the way things work.

  5. BobbyK, I share you wishes that Walt might be back strong and healthy next year, but let’s face it, that is not likely to happen. I also share your belief that we need to go into next season well prepared to go forward without him.

    For the team to go into next season truly prepared for potential injuries to Locklear and Willis (as you and others have been screaming for some time), then we need at least one, and maybe two big investments at OT. That will make it extremely difficult to pay Walt’s salary, in addition to new big salaries.

    I hope that Walt makes this clear and decides to retire. If he comes back, there will be doubt all the way until opening day about whether his knee will hold up. It would put the team in a position of possibly not having enough quality backup at OT once again. Everyone knows we can’t let that happen again.

    This could become a tough series of decisions this offseason for the GM to handle. I hope Walt makes it easier on him by retiring. Otherwise, there is almost no way to recruit and pay our OTs of the future at the same time we keep paying Walt.

  6. ballgame says:

    I have been reading a lot of the posts from other bloggers saying the Hawk’s should have seen this coming and they should have planned for it., and then people of are not happy that the 4th string LT isn’t a starting quality tackle.

    I mean I would love if that were the case, but from a roster standpoint there is no way I team can afford to pay for 4 quality tackles, to do that you would have to eat up something like 20-25% of your salary cap. It just can’t be done. The fact is we had 3 qaulity tackles on the roster and 2 got hurt, now one of which you could say we should have known wasn’t going to play this year (walter) so we should have had a 4th, but the fact is we were paying him and again you can’t commit 25% of cap space to the tackle position and expect to be competitive at every other position.

  7. Ah, so it’s a kidney condition that precludes him from the painkillers – I didn’t know what it was previously. That was the Kenny Easley situation – he took way too much ibuprofen (didn’t know at the time that it was damaging), and ended up w/major kidney damage as a result.

    Re Walt – obviously, the door will always be open for him on the Hawks if he can play anywhere near his former self. It’s not unprecedented for O-Lineman to come back from injury and play on (didn’t Willie Roaf do that for several years past the age of 35?) – so, we’ll see.

    I agree with others here that while it would obviously have been better for him to charge back in and lead the troops this year, it’s better for him to be out of the picture now, rather than be a continuing question mark over the season, if it wasn’t going to happen anyway.

  8. derekyoung says:

    I really hope we don’t come to a point where we’re considering waiving Walter because he’s not ready to retire. That’s just not a place I want to see the Hawks go.

  9. I really do understand what some of you are saying, but whether we’re paying Walt that much or not… he still was that big of a question coming in. And we seem to be able to overpay for LBs and that doesn’t make sense b/c an OL is more important IMO than LBs. I hope we overpay for Guards in FA (as good tackles don’t seem to make it to FA as often and if anyone seems to understand that guards are important… it would be us). As I said on draft day, and the months leading up to the draft, I’d take Oher over Curry if I had to choose between the two. I know, the hindsight thing… must move on… I miss Walt already…

  10. At this point, there will be no salary cap in 2010, so there’s no need to be concerned about how much Paul Allen is paying Walter.

    And even in the unlikely event the NFL and the union get a deal done and there is a cap again in March, Jones would count the same either way: $7.3 million. That’s his scheduled salary, and he has no proration beyond this year, so that would be his cap hit.

    He is counting $9.4 million against the $120 million cap this season, so if the Hawks can carry that amount in a year Jones doesn’t play, they certainly can pay him a lesser amount if he does play in 2010. And they won’t pay him anything if he retires. So it will take care of itself.

    There is no way the team would ever consider cutting him. They waited this long to shut him down for the season out of deference to his Hall of Fame career. They will let him work his way back in the offseason, and if he can’t play, he will know it and retire.

    No Kenny Easley ugliness this time.

  11. Pretty good breakdown of the O-line’s breakdown since 2005 here, and the idea, as Stevos said above, that the Hawks have to go heavy on linemen next offseason.

    And Stevos, remember, the Hawks will only pay Walter if he can play.

  12. With some good linemen set to become available in free agency, I think we need to sign a good one before the draft (my vote is for two). Right now, under contract for 2010 we have Walt at LT, nobody at LG, Unger at C, and Lock/Willis on the right side. And we can’t exactly count on Walt, nor has Lock proven to be overly durable anymore.

    I know we’ve had extensive offensive tackle talk… but here are some thoughts:

    Lets say Lock is our projected starter at LT in ’10. We know he’s not exactly durable anymore. But he’s functional when he plays. Getting a back-up would seem to be a priority in the draft. Someone who could sit back for a year (but someone talented enough to get in the game when Lock gets hurt again next year). This will take up one of our three picks in the first two rounds.

    RT – Willis. He’ll be in a contract year. He probably needs a back-up. A guy ready to potentially take over in ’11. A 4th or 5th rounder would be a good use of a pick.

    Basically, our tackle position, if healthy, wouldn’t be neither good or bad. It is what it is.

    However, we can’t allow going into a season with a bunch of average players on this all important unit. Having a Tackle situation like I mentioned means we should have a strength inside (since the tackles won’t be a strength). That’s all the more reason to sign one of the good FA guards. All Sims/Spencer/Unger are going to be is average and that’s probably a best case scenario which means our line won’t be good. It might (MIGHT) not suck, but we all want something good. I don’t know about all of you, but I want a guy we can run behind on 3rd and 1 and know we’ve got a good chance to make it. I also think the skills of Unger would be better utilized at Center. He likes that position best, feels most comfortable there, and his skill set seems to be that he’d be a better Center than a Guard.

    Basically, I think we need to sign one good FA and then use our Denver pick or our own 2nd rounder on a guard. Personally, I would go 1st first rounder on BPA, 2nd first rounder on a RB, and second rounder on a G. But then we haven’t addressed Free Safety or DE (if Tapp leaves in FA).

    In an ideal world for me, we’d have signed Jahri Evans and Daryn Colledge to big money contracts in FA and then we could ignore Guard on the 1st day of the draft and get our LT of the future, a breakaway RB, and a FS (in any order based on BPA). Signing the Guards would mean Unger will be in a better position to be successful since he’ll be surrounded by two quality players, and the quality play of the Guard position will make life easier for both Tackles too.

  13. nightwulf says:

    Bobby, I like what you’re thinking there…For my money, we could pass on a 1st day RB or S, and get the best two LT’s we could…Make ‘em fight it out…looser fights Lock and Willis for RT…If he’s good enough, we’d have rook#1 at LT, backed up by Lock, Colledge at LG, backed up by Sims, Unger at C, backed up by Spence, (I’m figuring we can get Sims and Spence on the cheap, as nobody’s liable to be beating down the door for their services) Evans at RG, backed up by Sims, Rook#2 at RT, backed up by Willis, and we’d still have room th carry Big Walt…

  14. nightwulf says:

    (further thoughts) We can hold off one more year on a “stud” RB, and go with Forsett, Rankin and Jones. This gives the line a year to gel before we use our #1 pick in ’11 on a true stud RB, thereby giving him a mostly gelled line to run behind, maximizing his impact (after all, RB’s tend to have a short shelf life. This will extend it a bit) (of course, if Jake Locker stays for his senior year at U Dub, and we get a shot at him, we’ll have to settle for a second round RB anyhow…but we’ll have Locker!) For that matter, so long as we get Evans and Colledge, I wouldn’t be overly broken hearted if we could get Berry and Locker and saved our second round pick for a LT, let him back up Lock…then in ’11, get our LT and RB of the future…Swear to god, though, if Ruskell picks Tebow with our first pick, I’ll hunt him down and shoot him myself…

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