Seahawks Insider

A longer look at Big Walt’s HOF chances

Post by Dave Boling / The News Tribune on Nov. 23, 2013 at 8:19 am with 55 Comments »
November 23, 2013 1:21 pm
Former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, right, puts his hand over his heart as he watches the unveiling of his retired jersey number with family members during a ceremony in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010 in Seattle.
Former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, right, puts his hand over his heart as he watches the unveiling of his retired jersey number with family members during a ceremony in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010 in Seattle.

Walter Jones’ advancement in the Hall of Fame voting process got overlooked a bit with our focus on the 2013 success. A few posters wanted a longer discussion of Big Walt’s chances to go from semifinals to finals to Canton.

No arguments here. It’s one of my favorite topics. Of Jones’ 180 games for the Seahawks, I staffed all but one or two, and had my binoculars on the offensive line every snap (give or take a hot-dog run). And I’d say that the somewhat subjective numbers used to evaluate offensive linemen, as impressive as they are for Walt, don’t do really capture his dominance.

In 12 seasons (not counting his season-long IR stay in his final one), Walt made nine Pro Bowls and earned six All-Pro honors. I say that’s short-changing him because he didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his third season, and that’s mostly because the Hawks were not only remote but also ordinary. It struck me that he was worthy as soon as he put on the jersey.

He’s credited with having only 9 holding penalties in his career, and giving up just 23 sacks in more than 5,700 pass plays. As few as that is, 23 seems high. At the end physical problems contributed, but I’d wager many of those were partially due to the quarterback holding the ball too long or collapses by other blockers. Jones didn’t get just physically beaten or tricked at the line more than a handful of times his entire career.

Size and strength played a role, of course, but I think the real root of his success was his balance. The man was never off balance. He had the feet of a dancer, and his technique was flawless. Look at any of the pictures of his set-up; his head is up, his butt is down, his feet are wide, he’s on his toes, and his arms are ready for any move a pass rusher is willing to try.

I remember asking one of the team execs about him when he was drafted, and he said “The minute he steps on the field, he’ll be the best player we’ve got … maybe that we’ve ever had.” What, really? He only played one year at Florida State. “You watch.” He then told me that some had clocked him in the 4.6s in the 40. At 6-5, 305. And he could bench press a truck.

So, Walter shows up for his first Seattle appearance after being drafted, wearing a pair of those carpenter-style work jeans that have the loop for your hammer. He smiled and looked happy and said about five words, which turned out to be his annual verbal production in the media. But it was symbolic … he was here to go to work.

Hard to remember this, but until Walter arrived, the Seahawks had never had a single offensive lineman make the Pro Bowl. From ’76 to his first year getting the honor, in ’99, not one Pro Bowl O-lineman.

Former OC Gil Haskell mentioned last week on KJR Mitch that during the ’05 season, they faced third-and-1 situations 23 times. Every time they ran the ball left over Jones and Steve Hutchinson, and they converted 22 times.

Thanks to the posters for digging up some video tributes to Walter, particularly the block against the Panthers. The thing is, Walter had one like almost every game. That one was showy because he stayed on the same guy all the way to the goal line. More often, he’d block an edge defender until the ball carrier was past him, then he drop him and go to the next level, to pick up a linebacker or safety. One time back in the Kingdome I recall him flattening an end, a linebacker and a cornerback on one sweep.

Mike Holmgren called him the best offensive player he ever coached. We initially assumed he meant offensive lineman. When reminded that he coached Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, etc. Holmgren nodded his head, yes, he knew that.

Jones played with knee and shoulder issues in the later years. Fans never really knew how much he was limited because there was never a peep out of him. You could tell when he was dinged, occasionally, when somebody (at times a teammate, yes, that’s you, Pork Chop Womack!) rolled up on him. He would rise slowly, and walk back to the huddle gingerly, like a grizzly bear with a thorn in its paw. He almost never came out.

Although he was not a font of insight for those of us in the media, he was always one of the great gentlemen of the game. He was genial and patient and never seemed upset. He made a habit of missing training camp on the years he was “franchised” and not a player on the team or member of the staff resented him for it. He showed up for the season in the same dominating condition.

Will he make it on the first ballot? Baltimore’s Jonathan Ogden did last year. He had a couple more Pro Bowls than Walt (11 to 9), but anybody around the game knows that Jones was every bit as dominant if not more so.

Here’s the AP story on the semifinalists.

Here’s a link to the video of Walter’s block for Shaun Alexander against Carolina in the NFC title game

Here’s a good old feature ’07 on Walter from Greg Bishop of the Times. Quotes from Walt are rare, of course, but this was a great one: “I’m a simple man, I play football.”

Here’s ESPN.com’s Terry Blount calling for Walter to be a first-ballot inductee.

The 15 modern-era finalists will be announced on Jan. 8. The inductees will be announced Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl, in New York. What a nice double-header it might make for Seahawks fans. 

Leave a comment Comments → 55
  1. Here’s my thing with Walter Jones and the hall of fame…

    If you can make a VERY strong case for any player to have been the greatest all time at his position, he should be in.

    I cannot think of a single left tackle I would rather have on the left side than Jones. This includes the oft-overrated Ogden.

    I think Jones should already have his bust carved… but it’s not. I think the HoF is more of a popularity contest first, and a shrine for the best players in NFL history second. Why else is Bettis on this list?

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1066759-the-13-best-nfl-lts-of-all-time/page/15

  2. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Thanks Dave

  3. MoSeahawk12 says:

    Yes, thank you Dave. Excellent follow up post for one of the all time greats and Seahawks legends!

  4. FleaFlicker says:

    Great post today, Mr. Boling. No disrepect to Dybas, Williams, Sando, et. al., but no amount of research and analysis can replace a couple decade’s worth of covering this team week in and week out.

  5. Excellent writing Mr. Boling. I admire you a great deal.

    Walter Jones was the greatest Offensive Lineman of all time. Period. He went nearly two years without giving up a sack. He was so good, he was utterly invisible; the greatest compliment a lineman could get.

    He may have better than Steve Largent; and thats coming from Largents biggest fan. Theres an argument to be made that Jones was the greatest player in the history of Professional Football.

    That is not hyperbole; if anything, its selling the man short.

    Walter Jones was as perfect as a Human can be at his profession. He is the standard.

  6. Nice job Dave…really great writing and solid links. The BYE week just got a whole lot better.

  7. banosser says:

    Well… when you play your career in Seattle.. nothing is a given… When Holmgren says you were the best player he’s ever coached?? When Dungy advances further than Holmgren as HOF candidates?? When it took Tez 7 yrs (i think) to get in??

    Of course Walt is a first ballot HOFer… it’s just that he played his entire career in Seattle so ya never know smh

  8. chuck_easton says:

    Agree bannoser

    Walt should be in 1st ballot without question. That is if only Seattle fans and writers has a say.

    The problem is he needs to get some votes from some national media types who couldn’t find Seattle on a map let alone could tell you anything about the Seahawks.

    I would be upset, but not shocked at all if Walter didn’t even make it as one of the 10 finalist let alone one of the five selections.

  9. sluggo42 says:

    Yup, the best period. We were lucky to have him

  10. Love it when he raises the 12th man flag. The best ever.I love the flag raising period.

  11. Unfortunately, the “South Alaska Curse” is a factor with this. The Ravens won a SB with Ogden. Walt was on the losing team (yes, it was stolen but history only records that we lost). As much as he deserves to be first ballot, I won’t be surprised if it takes a couple years. Hopefully the uproar of being snubbed this year would cause some sportswriters to look at him more and he can get the recognition he’s earned next. Hopefully, I’m wrong and he gets in anyway.

    I find that for every discussion of GOATs, there’s a line above which that you can’t fairly compare people because they’re from different eras (Jim Brown/Emmitt Smith), they have different styles (Jimi/Clapton)or even had different supporting casts/players around them (I’ve always maintained the Largent was better than Rice but never had Montana/Young throwing to him. Put Barry Sanders behind Dallas’ line then). Pace? Ogden? Boselli? All GREAT left tackles. All deserving to be mentioned in the same sentence. Any LT should be striving to be compared to ANY of them. The problem is in coming up with an objective criteria.

  12. bird_spit says:

    lol…
    “Jones definitely can be gentle, too. A defensive end once approached Hasselbeck at the Pro Bowl. He can’t remember who it was, but remembers him saying, “The most demoralizing thing about playing against Walt is you almost, you almost, have one positive play, and he’ll say, ‘Good job.’ Psychologically, it demoralizes you. He manhandles you, but he thought that was the best that you could do.”"

    This was a pro bowl DE…hahaha.. Jones was so dominant.

  13. Southendzone says:

    If you analyze the finalists, as far as offensive lineman go, there’s no contest. No way Joe Jacoby or Steve Wisneiwski is going in ahead of Walter.

    I could see Charles Haley and Andre Reed making it. I don’t even think they should induct kickers, who gives a crap about Morten Anderson, big deal you played kicker until you were 56 years old, I mow my lawn twice a month too and I’m nearly that old. Both are equally impressive feats.

  14. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Gee, maybe TNT should hire Yank on the weekends too. Only 13 posts for Walt? We would get over a hundred if someone would stir up an argument. Lol.

  15. How long was Brady Quinn with the Rams? He was just placed on IR (back). Did he play for them?

  16. montanamike2 says:

    I’m so glad we released Brady Quinn.

  17. jawpeace says:

    Thanks Dave for the nice write up.
    I loved watching Jones. In fact he has been the only OL player that I used to watch instead of the ball. Every drop back I would gush watching Jones dominate the opposing defenders that crossed his path. He is the best LOT I have ever seen. Anthony Monuz (SP?) was really dominate but I would have to agree with Holmgren. The best Offensive player. I also loved how he held out all camp and pushed cars and then first day back and there was no rust what so ever!

  18. I think Walt and Reed should be in – if either is out then there is something wrong with the people voting (IMO) There are a number of guys who are on the circumstances they were in not the performance on the field. They may get in but I don’t think most of them are “strong” candidates – while all deserve to be candidates just not sure how strong

  19. “Since Jonathan Ogden was a 1st ballot HoFer this last go round, there is literally zero argument that can be made for Walt to also be a 1st ballot HoFer this year.”–RDPoulsbo

    If only it were this simple. Most of us in or fans of the team in Southern Alaska know this, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the rest of the country. I saw a blog where they were talking about how Ogden was clearly better than Walt. It’s more subjective with O-lineman. Not a lot of stats to go on.

    I’m not sure that Walt was the best ever, as it is highly subjective, but he is CERTAINLY the best I have ever seen. A man amongst boys.

    Dave, Walt played 12 seasons before his season on the IR in 2009. 1997-2008. Though he missed 4 games in 2008. Great article and great job on the blog this week. Just trying to clear that up.

  20. GeorgiaHawk says:

    No mention of Walt here-http://nfl.si.com/2013/08/02/pro-football-hall-of-fame-2014-class/

  21. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Here is a list of the HOF selection Committee members- http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/selectionprocess.aspx

  22. King, Sando, and Clayton have to vote for Walt, right?

  23. GeorgiaHawk says:

    It will be interesting to see if Clayton, Sando and King gives Walt more national props before the final voting.

  24. Just heard on nfl network that WT3 is getting a 4 game suspension. Anyone have any idea why?

  25. Southendzone says:

    Substance abuse policy, this really sucks, puts a huge hurt on our #1 seed goal. WTF is wrong with these players? If he says it’s Adderal, he can go to hell, I’m so sick of that cop out lie of an excuse.

    Either say nothing, or say what you really got caught for.

  26. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Russell Wilson has the highest 2nd quarter rating (127.8) in the NFL. Brees is next at (118.8). Peyton Manning has (109.9).

  27. The rule is to start at CB for this team, you must use PEDs.

    Not good with Drew Brees coming to town.

  28. HawkfaninMT says:

    Sounds like it is not adderall per rotoworld. But still, once in a lifetime chance with this team… Stay off drugs!

    Sheesh!

  29. Thurmond plans not to appeal and will serve his suspension. That’s great, because it’s during the toughest 4 game stretch the team has.

  30. You ignorant, selfish a-hole.

  31. MikeFromNewJersey says:

    No worries, next man up. Lane and Maxwell can bring it. If our pash rush does their job, the corners will be fine..
    I guess we now know why Perrish Cox paid a visit last week. I guess either he or maybe Snead from PS sign to the 53.

  32. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I hope the Legion Of Boom doesn’t end up the Legion of Doom.

  33. MikeFromNewJersey says:

    Maybe Antoine Winfield gets a call…

  34. GeorgiaHawk says:

    So when will he start the suspension? Hopefully after the Saints game.

  35. Southendzone says:

    GH, it’s immediate begin of the suspension. No Saints game. I like the Winfield idea if its possible. Seems unlikely but still would be nice.

  36. After years of bad breaks, Thurmond is healthy and gets his chance to start, but he’s busted for Substance Abuse. That means he’s tested positive several times, as once won’t bring about a suspension.

    See ya later, Thurmond, don’t let the door hit ya ass on your way out…

    If is weed–and it likely is, I have no problem with using it, in itself. The problem I have is that he risked his career and let his team down by breaking rules REPEATEDLY. Also, the leagues testing policy is a joke; players know when tests are likely; that means Thurmond was sloppy and just didn’t care.

    Well he’s cost himself a ton of money by pulling this in a contract year.

    Next man up, but neither Maxwell nor Lane has looked particularly good in the slot. This hurts.

    Legion of cheat? Seriously, that’s two guilty of being busted and a third who escaped on appeal from one position group. At least it wasn’t PED’s again…

    Here comes the apologists to insist he’s innocent until incarcerated…

  37. vichawkfan says:
  38. Southendzone says:

    He is dropping his appeal so no one is gonna be saying he’s innocent. I agree with you that it looks like probable marijuana use.

    This doesn’t add any credence to a Legion of Cheat moniker though, it’s non-PED so doesn’t point to any competitive advantage, just horrible judgement at a horrible time.

    Holding a prayer circle for the Redskins to somehow beat SF on Monday so we still have a decent shot at winning the NFC West.

  39. Winfield would be likely to get hurt immediately; as far as I know, he hasn’t played all year. No wonder Pete was talking about Tharold Simon being ready to come back. But he’s a rookie, all he’ll be good for is special teams.

    Pardon me, but the prospect of Lane and Maxwell at corner and nickel does not excite me. Saints must be pumped.

    Our soft zone D wasn’t exactly stout last week vs the worst WR corps in the league, with baaaad qb’s: what’s more of the same gonna look like vs the Saints?! I shudder at the prospect. Plus, Seattle has a habit this year not being able to run vs bad run D’s….we have to run the ball and hit Brees…we have to!

  40. Marijuana doesn’t fall under PED use does it? I wonder when he got hit positive- early season- off season ….

  41. Chance of a lifetime though for Lane and Maxwell. If they play well, Thurmond becomes expendable and unnecessary.

    If Seattle can beat NO down two corners, this team will be unbeatable.

  42. Good lord. No one here would know or say shit if he just drank alcohol, event though it’s worse for you physiologically than marijuana. But who cares? It’s more important that they worry about that then to worry about the damage JUST PLAYING does.

  43. Southendzone says:

    This could be the time where the Offense comes through and picks the team up. That plus the 12th man can still swing the game for us next Monday.

  44. Yes, playing NFL football is WAY worse for you than smoking weed.

  45. SandpointHawk says:

    Sorry if you can’t stay off the recreational drugs for $630,000 a season you got one screwed up value system. But to each his own…Next man up…

  46. Bbmate–the point is the moron got busted multiple times. The NFL doesn’t suspend players for the first positive test. The point is Thurmond knowingly broke the rules–repeatedly, and in a cOntract year, let his teammates and coaches down. This behavior speaks to selfishness, immaturity, and stupidity. He’ll be lucky to get a two-year deal for the league min now…cost hisself a whole lot of money…

    I have no problem with players smoking weed in the offseason. But one beer is not the same as getting baked.

    In a better world, the NFL wouldn’t worry about weed use. IMO, the testing comes from Old School owners who still think Reefer Madness is a documentary…but the point is, Thurmond is an idiot of epic proportions, and has proven to be unreliable.

    IMO, he can piss off.

  47. Bbmate–I don’t think any rational person would say using weed is anywhere near as deleterious as playing football. That’s not the argument.

  48. Disappointing about Thurmond. Especially with Drew Brees coming to town. Oh well…next up. This team has resiliency. It was a mistake but don’t dwell. Remain focused on the goal of going 1-0.

    Maxwell has been the next in line, but most unimpressive outside some special teams stuff. I was impressed with Lane last year and prefer to see what he can do. Very quick, hard hitting tackler and didn’t seem to get caught up in the moment.

    Thurmond is a nice player but since we have so much depth, we just have to believe in the system. Getting angry is a waste of time.

    I’d love to see Russell and the offense really take off like they did last December to take some pressure off the defense. Let’s see what Percy really brings. I sense Tate will want to prove his worth too.

    All these guys are hungry. WT3 will regret being on this run. I think it also changes the conversation about Thurmond vs Browner and their contracts for next year. Timing is everything. The stage has now moved to the postseason for those two to win spot opposite Sherman.

    I’m expecting A LOT of press this upcoming week. It’s about to get crazy folks!

    GO HAWKS!

  49. I agree he’s stupid or an addict if he couldn’t refrain for the test, but it’s still bullshit IMO. You can take Toradol, and all other kinds of anti-inflammatory drugs. But that’s alright, I guess? You’re a hypocrite if you care about this and haven’t said shit about others

  50. Bbmate–I have gone off in the past regarding the NFL’s Drug Policy. You and I are in agreement that their system–which allows Tiradol etc, but not weed etc–is hypocritical and wrong. As I have said, I don’t see how/why the NFL has any business testing for Marijuana.

    However, they do test for it and Thurmond was ass enough to fail tests repeatedly. He’s really hurting the team, and the Seahawks reputation, not just himself.

    Follow the rules or get out. He had millions of reasons (and not just money) to stay within the rules. He won’t do it, so IMO he’s gone and good riddance. He’s blown his second chance.

  51. jawpeace says:

    Thurmond can argue that pot is legal in WA and should not be punished for doing something legal.
    I am with everyone calling him an IDIOT. Way to put yourself before the team. This will hurt his $$$ this season and next. May like Leroy Hill hurting his FA we can sign WT3 for cheap. Though I almost question signing a pot head who has a history of injury problems.

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