It probably was the most we’ve heard from Walter Jones in one sitting, as the 36-year-old shoe-in for the Hall of Fame talked frankly for about 15 minutes in announcing his retirement from the game.
Jones was honest, funny and retrospective in his comments to reporters this afternoon.
After 18 months of trying to rehab a injured left knee after microfracture surgery in December 2008, Jones said he finally came to the conclusion that he could no longer play the game he loved up to the high standards he had set for the position.
“I had to come to the fact that I couldn’t go out and play at a standard that I had set for myself,” Jones said. “So that was most of my reason, because I loved the game and my family loved the game and I don’t want to an embarrassment to them. So I had to be honest with myself.”
Jones said that when he first arrived in the league from Florida State in 1997, that he looked to established veterans to see how he needed to perform.
“That was my motivation,” he said. “I watched a lot of the tackles that they would consider the best tackles in the league, and I was saying, ‘What could I do to beat those guys out, or be better than those guys. So that was my approach each year, to try and be better than the year before.”
Several of Jones’ teammates, including Matt Hasselbeck, Sean Locklear and Chris Spencer, were on hand for the announcement.
Jones said because he hasn’t played football for a 1 ½ years that he has already dealt with reality of not playing football.
He thanked several people, but gave special thanks to former coach Mike Holmgren for raising the level of play for the franchise.
“He changed the way things were going around here,” Jones said about Holmgren. “In his first meeting he told the guys if you do it this way you will win, and we’ll be in the Super Bowl. … and it came through.”
Here are a few tidbits from the press conference.
On the statement that he didn’t know a lot of the players on the team. “It was always a joke that I didn’t know a lot of the guys, but I knew the guys. My approach was, I knew who I needed to know.”
Jones jokingly thanked former Seahawks contract negotiator Mike Reinfeldt, now with Tennessee, for all of the contract battles. Jones held out of training camp several times during his years with Seattle:
What is he most proud of? “I think it’s just being able to play this great game. And to be a part of something special for so long.”
On having his No. 71 jersey retired: “That’s a great honor for them to do that so fast. That’s a great honor knowing no one will ever wear that number again, and I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”
On teammate Robbie Tobeck trashing talking for him: “You had guys like Robbie Tobeck, who would mouth off at guys he’s not even going against, and try to make it tough for us. We used to be like, ‘Be quiet, man.’”
On the nine holding calls and 23 sacks he allowed during his career: “I think on those sacks it was more of the quarterback’s fault.”
And what would Jones’ advice be to Russell Okung, who is following in his footsteps:
“My advice is don’t get caught up in the pressure of you got to replace Walter. You’ve got to go out and make your own name for yourself. I think if goes out and he wants to be the best, that should be the approach he takes.”