Seahawks Insider

Walter Jones says goodbye, officially retires

Post by Eric Williams on April 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm with 45 Comments »
April 29, 2010 4:25 pm
Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones (Jim Bryant/AP)

BY ERIC D. WILLIAMS
Staff writer
He simply changed the way the position of offensive tackle is played, and will go down in football history as perhaps the best ever to play the position.

Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones called it a career after 13 impressive years in the league, making an announcement through the team on Thursday.

Jones is expected to talk to reporters on Friday, the first day of Seattle’s three day, post-draft minicamp.

In Jones’ honor, the Seahawks announced they immediately will retire his No. 71 jersey. And Governor Christine Gregoire has declared Friday Walter Jones Day.

Jones, 36, was named to nine Pro Bowls, most in team history, earned All-Pro honors six times and was named to the league’s all-decade team for the 2000s.

But beyond all of the accolades, Jones will be remembered for the quiet way he went about his business on the field, consistently dominating his opponent and letting his play do the talking.

“He’s played a long time and I think he’s really been a warrior the last, couple years, because he’s played on some bad wheels and a bad shoulder, those kind of things,” said former Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, now head of football operations for the Cleveland Browns. “He’s played a lot of football.”

At one point toward the end of his final season coaching in Seattle, Holmgren said Jones was the best offensive player he coached – a list that includes Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Brett Favre.

“I did,” Holmgren said at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine in February. “And then I got so much flack on that from the quarterbacks, they all started phoning me saying, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s one of the best offensive players I’ve ever coached, absolutely. And he’s the best tackle.

“It’s the feeling that you have when you have a left tackle that can play like he does, and you don’t have to monkey with your protections that much that way,” Holmgren went on. “You just can say, ‘Okay, you’ve got that guy and we’ll help in other areas.’ Very few teams can say that.”

Jones managed to avoid injuries early in his career, never missing a game due to injury after missing four games during his rookie season in 1997 to the 2008 season. Jones started 180 games for Seattle, second in franchise history to Steve Largent (197).

However, late in the 2008 season Seattle placed Jones on the injured reserve because in November 2008 because of a knee issue that ended up requiring microfracture surgery on his left knee in December.

Jones promised to return to the field during the offseason, but after failed attempts to get back on the field during training camp he had another surgery on the same knee in August to remove some loose bodies and a little scar tissue from part of the original, microfracture surgery.

Jones never regained the stability in his knee needed to play at the high level during his time in the league.
Further limiting Jones’ ability to recover from the injury is the fact that a kidney condition prevented him from taking anti-inflammatory medication.

Defensive end Bryce Fisher was former teammate of Jones who also played against him during the early portion of his career while in St. Louis.

“It was awful,” Fisher said about playing against Jones. “I played against him my first four years in the league, and I think I beat him one time in a passing situation, maybe two or three if my mother was doing the grading.

“He was virtually impossible to beat.”

Fisher talked about Jones’ unique combination of his physically imposing presence combined with the quick feet and agility of a receiver.

“Walter was probably a better athlete than everybody on the field other than the defensive backs,” Fisher said.

Jones’ affect on the team also can be measured in Seattle’s offensive production without him. Seattle finished 7-13 in the last 20 games Jones has not has been on the field. More important, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck missed six of those 20 games, has been sacked 32 times with Jones not at left tackle and finished with a pedestrian 75.1 passer rating in that span.

“You’ve got to think about it: He stabilized arguably the second-most important position on the field for a better part of a decade,” Fisher said.

Leave a comment Comments → 45
  1. SeahawkFan12 says:

    Walt is a class-act, a legend, and a icon of Seattle sports. He will be missed, and I can hardly wait to see him indicted into the Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame.

  2. SeahawkFan12 says:

    Uh…INDUCTED, not indicted…my apologies for the typo…

  3. HawkfaninMT says:

    Thanks for giving it 100% Walt… A true Seahawk

  4. One of the best and most accomplished athletes in the history of Seattle sports. It was a privilege to see him play for our hometown team. I am eager to see him inducted in Canton. Thanks for your work, Walt!

  5. Thanks for all of the memories Walt. You were the best player to ever don the blue and green.

    I hope you are the one to raise the 12th man flag opening day.

  6. bird_spit says:

    I doubt there will be a better complement paid to Walt than the one Holmgren gave him. That says it all.

  7. I remember a story I heard about Walt dominating his opponent. I don’t recall who said it, for some reason Strahan jumps out at me but not sure. The player said that not only does Walt put you on your butt but he smiles and helps you up after he does so.
    I can’t imagine anything being more humiliating. You get beat and then helped up by a guy who is smiling!

  8. zombiehooliganfc says:

    The best part about Walt was that even when he had contract issues he did not play the media game and make a bigger scene than he had to. He played by the rules and did his business the way the business was set up for players. When his issues were resolved he came back and played like nothing happened. he was not a victim, he was not a child, he was a pro and one of the best of them, ever.

  9. zombiehooliganfc says:

    And he better be our THIRD HOF player, not the second. (If Tez doesn’t get in, the entire state of South Alaska will revolt.)

  10. Norseman says:

    thanks walt.

  11. alseahawk says:

    Thanks to Big Walt for an amazing career. With all due respect to Tez, Largent, Easley, et all……you are the greatest Seahawk ever.

  12. bird_spit says:

    I have to say this..Tez was so great, a true game changer. Tez was the player that solidified me as a newbie Seahawk fan. But, Big Walt would have handled Tez, if he had the assignment. I have no doubt about that.

  13. We knew this day would come, but losing him still sucks. He’s still young in human years, so here’s to hoping he enjoys the rest of his long life. Have fun, Big Walt!

  14. badcat63 says:

    May the fans of the Seahawks raise a glass and toast to the retirement of the best Left Tackle we may ever see playing in the NFL. (Hopefully we just drafted the 2nd best LOT.) May God bless Walter Jones and give him a long and happy life with good knees to watch his children and grand children grow.

    We are blessed to have had you Walter. Thanks for all the GREAT years!

    GO SEAHAWKS

  15. snydro81 says:

    Man, I feel like I took Walt for granted for way too long. I always appreciated him, and loved him, and had his jersey, but it was almost like I just took for granted that he would always be there.

    I’ll forever think back fondly on big Walt, much like I think back on Edgar and The Glove..

    Okay guys, trivia and riddle experts —

    When asked which UDFA had the best shot of making the team, John Schneider said he would give a hint – “I am the Walrus..”

    Any ideas?

    I’m stumped..

    He also dropped this nugget, which makes me feel all warm and cozy inside: “Would love to improve our pass rush, depth on the defensive line and depth on the offensive line. It all starts up front.”

  16. I just hope he’s married to an WNBA star, and they’re having a whole brood of little boys.

    I’ll never forget the WALT/HUTCH years when everyone in the stadium, including the opposing team, knew we were running to the left for a 1st down, but it didn’t matter because we’d run it right down their throats anyway. I loved watching Walt toss pro-bowl defensive ends around like they were rag dolls.

    We”ll never forget you, Walt!

  17. Dukeshire says:

    Snydro – Here’s what I think; I think Schneider is deferring to Pete Carroll. It will be Carroll’s decision alone. The Walrus in the song is a reference to a character in the book “Through the Looking Glass” by Will Carroll. Just a thought…

  18. nighthawk2 says:

    Thanks for everything Walter. You were the best. First ballot Hall of Fame. # 71 will be retired, and your name and number should be put on the Ring of Honor the first home game vs. San Francisco. And you raise the 12th man flag for that game.

  19. Thanks for a Hall of Fame career Big Walt. Looks like Mr. Largent will finally have some company in Canton in a few years!

  20. EyeAmBaldman says:

    Simply the best to ever play the position. I remember when the Hawks drafted him. I didn’t have a clue who Walter Jones was. It didn’t take long for people to notice he was good…really good. The guy is a class act. I’m glad to see the Hawks immediately retire his jersey. He and Largent, two of the nicest yet toughest players ever to wear the Hawks jersey. Walter will be missed.

  21. seahawk44 says:

    First yer eligible hall of famer?

    Mr Jones ….Thank you for all you have given to my favorite football team.

  22. r3cusant says:

    Walter Jones needs something named after him. Okung has big shoes to fill.

  23. A legend….thanks Mr. Jones.

  24. “The best part about Walt was that even when he had contract issues he did not play the media game and make a bigger scene than he had to. He played by the rules and did his business the way the business was set up for players. When his issues were resolved he came back and played like nothing happened. he was not a victim, he was not a child, he was a pro and one of the best of them, ever.”

    Good post.

    Being a great LT is one of those roles that is almost best when it goes unnoticed, that is, we just never had to worry about our QB’s blind side, because Walt just handled whoever he was up against. In many way, it is only in his absence that I truly realized how extraordinary he was.

    Timing is right – we’ve drafted high to find his replacement – next stop for him is the HOF.

  25. Thank you Walter! You’re truly a Pro’s Pro. Always reliable, down to business. Played the game on the field and not through the media like so many players do. So dominating, yet so quiet. Let your play do the talking. Hard to believe it’s been 13 yrs. Truly the end of an era. Enjoy your retirement with your family, Walter. You more than deserve it! Look forward to your HOF speech!

  26. subtlesquire says:

    It’s great that they have instantly retired his number. Walt will always be a Seahawk, but I’ll miss seeing him on the field. He is a classy man and we were lucky to have had him for his entire career.

    Good luck Walt. See you when you raise the 12th Man flag.

  27. Wow!

    Walt, I can’t thank you enough…. You’re still special… Don’t ever forget it…

  28. I felt sad when Largent retired, partly because the Seahawks got clobbered by the Redskins in his last game, 29-0. I also felt sad for the Tez, because he played in only one playoff game, the wild-card loss to Miami, and wanted to continue playing. I don’t feel particularly sad about Walter retiring — he had a great career and also played in the Super Bowl.

    What I’m happy about is that all three finished their careers as Seahawks. I hope Matt Hasselbeck gets to do the same.

  29. Greatest ever.

  30. Thanks Big Walt! Next stop, Canton.

  31. This is a sad sad day, we all knew it would come sooner rather than later, but to see one of the best left tackles in the history of the National Football League retire is still…. well sad. Besides Hasselbeck, Walter was my favorite Seahawk currently playing, and if Okung is the 10th on the player Walter was, then I think we have made an excellent choice. I have a football signed by Walter Jones, I guess I’ll have to clean up my room, and put it somewhere more nice.

  32. surelyyoujest says:

    Thanks Walt. You were a blessing to all Seahawk fans. Enjoy your retirement but please keep in touch with the Team. We don’t want you riding off into the sunset or anything. Your face will forever bring a smile to my face whenever I see it. I would dearly love to shake your hand and thank you in person.

    There was a reference to the NFC Playoff game against Carolina in one of the tribute videos on seahawks.com. They play they showed was pretty impressive (Mack Strong talked about it), but Walt did that all the time. There was a play on a drive in the second quarter (same game), just before we punted and Steve Smith scored on a punt return (shouldn’t have counted). It was a run to the left that was called back because Stevens got caught on a hold. Walt drove his block right through the camera frame, past the runner, and past the sidelines like he was on skates. I laughed when I saw it, even though the play was called back. But he did that stuff all the time, and we took it for granted.

  33. I really hope that he stays around Seahakws football. If he were to accept a role as strength and conditioning, or O-Line assistant coach, my off-seeason would be complete. :)

  34. I hope Walt gets the opportunity to raise the 12th man flag on opening day, along with his own flag, “71.”

    Go Hawks!

  35. OCHawkFan says:

    Goodbye Walt, we’re going to miss you man.

    This may be off topic, but why arent we going after Ken Hamlin? Pairing ET at FS and him at SS would be lethal! He is an ideal hard hitting SS who was playing out of position at FS while he was here. Give him a one year deal while Kam gets up to speed!

  36. chuck_easton says:

    OCHawkFan,

    I can give you a GOOD reason why we are not going after Hamlin. After leaving Seattle he had one good year in Dallas. Made the pro-bowl. Got his big payday and then proceeded to stink the joint up for two seasons.

    He got cut in Dallas because they didn’t want to pay him 5 Million for the season given he’s been so bad.

    The Dallas fans were jumping for joy that he got cut because they said he was always out of position, only cared about the big hit, was terrible in coverage, and got beat deep to many times. Sound familiar?

  37. OCHawkFan says:

    Chuck, sounds familiar when he played FS. However, I was insinuating that he has more of a SS mentality. Earl Thomas will be at FS as a safety blanket leaving Hamlin to play in the box.

    Just a thought, bring him in for a one year deal and see what he’s got. Not a long term fix, but would be better suited for SS than Babs.

  38. A once in a franchise pick. Who knows if we’ll ever see another player of his caliber. Thanks Walter for all that you done.

  39. JMSeaTown says:

    I wonder who’s raising the 12th man flag opening day? (cough cough)

  40. seahawklovertoo says:

    Thanks Mr.Jones. You have done so much for this team and us the fans.
    I wish You peaceful and happy retirement and rest of Your life to be full with joy and great health.

  41. bird_spit says:

    I think it would be fitting to have Shaun Alexander actually hoist the flag on opening day, while Walter Jones directs him.

  42. Dukeshire says:

    OCHawkFan – Not before Kam Chancellor has has his opportunity. Pass on Hamlin.

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