Saturday, August 2, 2014
Walter Jones has 'attitude of gratitude'
By Terry Blount
Walterius Jones, the 14-year-old son of Walter Jones, said it all about his dad in seven words Seattle Seahawks fans have heard before:
"They said he could block the sun."
Jones, arguably the best offensive tackle in the history of the NFL, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
"It’s the incredible journey," Walterius said. "He came from nothing. Football gave him a sense of hope that there is a way out of that environment."
Jones became the third Seahawk to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining wide receiver Steve Largent and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy.
"I have an attitude of gratitude for so many people who helped me become who I am," Jones said. "I'd be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about this day ever since Cortez said during his enshrinement two years ago, 'Walter Jones, you’re next.'"
6-5, 300 pounds
1997-2008 Seattle Seahawks
• Sixth overall pick in 1997 NFL draft
• First offensive lineman in Seahawks history elected to Pro Bowl
• Nine-time Pro Bowler
• Four-time First-Team All-Pro
• Seahawks-record 10 playoff starts, including Super Bowl XL
• Named to NFL's All-Decade Team of 2000s
The first-ballot Hall of Famer made a point to praise his mother, Earline, who was sitting in the audience.
"I grew up in Aliceville, Alabama, the seventh of eight kids and the biggest son to a wonderful woman," Jones said. "Occasionally, the power would go out, and we might not have enough food in the morning, but we were never in the dark and never went to bed hungry.
"Thank you for all your hard work and perseverance. Momma, I remember many nights hearing you cry and pray. Now, as I stand here, I can say prayer does have the power of change. You always supported me. You are the real Hall of Famer."
Jones remembered how in ninth grade the Aliceville High School football coach, Pierce McIntosh, put him through his first football drills. Jones asked him what he thought.
"He said, 'I think you're a million dollars walking around broke,'" Jones said. "He saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. I hope I made you proud."
The nine-time Pro Bowler thanked all the quarterbacks who he blocked for with the Seahawks, but he had a special message for Matt Hasselbeck, who was in the audience.
"I'm sorry I slapped you at training camp," Jones said. "But because I protect the quarterback, I have the right to slap the quarterbacks."
Jones protected the quarterbacks like no other tackle in NFL history. He started all 180 games he played for the Seahawks and allowed only 23 sacks during his entire career on 5,703 pass plays, which is only one in every 248 pass plays. He was whistled for holding only nine times, once every 634 plays.
"Football has been a blessing and has changed my life and those around me," Jones said. "And to the 12s [12th man], what a wonderful group of fans. I truly loved playing for you all and cheered with you last season. I will cherish this journey the rest of my life. Thank you, go Seahawks and I love Seattle."