Walter Jones’ Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech
Wow, thank you, son, for that wonderful introduction. I am truly blessed. To my fellow Hall of Famers, I am so honored to wear this gold jacket, No. 284 of 287. I’ll wear it with pride, and I promise to respect all it represents as long as I live.
It’s an honor to join Steve Largent and Cortez Kennedy. As the third player to represent the Seahawks franchise and the 12th Man. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about this day ever since Cortez came into this enshrinement two years ago. Walter Jones, you’re next.
Steve, you have set the standard for all Seahawks to follow. And Cortez, you showed us all what it’s like to be a professional and a real Hall of Famer. To you both, I plan to pay your graciousness forward. Believe me, I have an attitude of gratitude for so many people who helped me become who I am, and today I want to share with you who I am.
I grew up in Aliceville, Alabama. The seventh of eight kids and the fourth son to a wonderful woman. My family means the world to me. We may not have had much, but Mom always made sure we had everything we needed. With eight kids, that can be tough. Occasionally the power would go out or we might not have enough food in the morning. But understand something, we were never in the dark and never went to bed hungry. That is a true testament to my mother, Earline Jones.
Mama, I love you. Thank you for all your hard work, determination, and perseverance. No matter how tough things got, you treated us the right way. Mama, I remember many nights hearing you cry and pray. Now as I stand here, I can say that prayer does have the power of change. You always supported me and the decisions I made. Speaking for the rest of my siblings, you should take such pride in the family you raised. You’re the real Hall of Famer. You set such an example for your kids and grandkids. We all love you so much. Thank you.
To my brothers and sisters, you all have been so important to me. I love you. To my oldest sister, Beverly, thank you for the gifts and the big sister love. I do remember, you’ve always been there. To my oldest brother, Cornelius, you are the father figure in my life. Thanks for taking care of us when Mom was working those long hours.
To Gwen, the party starter. You kept me up to all the great music when I was young. You were so cool. When you would break curfew, I was the one that unlocked the door. Sorry, Mom.
To Danny, the first to leave the nest and go off and join the Army, thank you. You showed me you could leave Aliceville and become something. Like all the men and women who serve our country, you are a true hero.
To Valeria, you are the true spirit of Mom. You kept us together and sometimes apart, but that’s what makes you special. Love you.
To Tony, thank you for just being my brother and making sure your baby brother was okay. Love you, man.
And to my baby sister, Tanya, thank you for the “I just called to say I love you” calls. I’m always here for you, Sis. To my kids, Walterius and Waleria, I love you so much, and I’m so proud of the beautiful young people you’ve become. Walterius, I’m so proud to be representing you today. You’ve been by my side throughout this process, and I’m so glad we shared this.
Waleria, my beautiful daughter, you’re my baby girl, and Daddy is always there for you. I told you I was going to give you a shout out. So everyone watching tonight, go follow my daughter on Instagram. Love you.
To Valeria, my ex wife and the mother of our kids. I just want to say you’ve been strong through it all. You’ve become a friend that truly knows me. We’ve been through it, but we made it. Thank you.
My stepson Randal, Kensal, and Rafael, I love you all very much.
To the rest of my family and friends, thank you for your love and support.
To my family members who have passed but are with us today in spirit, Amanda Connor, Grandma, my granddad, the original Walter Jones, and my grandmother, Vernon Jones who we lovingly call “Muh Dear.”
I spent many a summers with my grandparents. Muh Dear kept the sweet tea flowing, and left me with some great family memories. Granddad had a strong work ethic which he instilled in me, and I know I’ve done him proud. I helped him with the chores and in the garden. But he always left us enough time to be kids and enjoy the summer.
Wayne Jones was like a brother to me. I loved summers with him. I learned from them that if you want it, you can get it, and nothing comes between family. We love family no matter what. My football journey began in Aliceville High School, as an oversized ninth grader.
Coach Pierce Macintosh approached me and asked me have you ever played football or thought about playing? Which I hadn’t. He immediately took me to the fields. Afterwards, I said, what do you think? He said, I think you’re a million dollars walking around broke. Coach, you saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. You pushed me and believed in me. You came along at a perfect time in my life. You taught me discipline and work ethic. Your motto, better is possible, and good is not enough. Everything I learned from you in high school, I used in my pro career. I hope I made you proud. Thank you.
Also, I want to give a special mention to Miss MacIntosh. Miss Mac, thank you for always being there for me.
To French Camp Academy, the school that allowed me to continue my studies and graduate in high school and continue my football journey. If not for this wonderful school, I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. Coach Robert Poole and Glen Davis and Holmes Community College. I am so glad I passed the eyeball test. You were my home away from home. Thank you for my first college football experience.
To my alma mater, Florida State and Coach Bobby Bowden, thank you for the experience and the opportunity to play Division 1 football with some of the greatest athletes. I am forever grateful. Go ‘Noles.
I had three head coaches in the NFL. Dennis Erickson, Jim Mora, and Mike Holmgren. Thank you for your support and leadership. You all had a tremendous impact on me.
Coach Holmgren, you’ll be standing up here one day. Thank you for bringing success to the northwest. Whatever you told us, we believed, and everybody followed your lead. Randy Mueller and Mickey Loomis drafted me and forever changed my life. A special shout out to Mike Reinfeldt for all those contract battles you made with my agent Roosevelt Barnes. Being franchised really helped define my character and my career. Missing training camp wasn’t bad either.
Roosevelt, thanks for believing in me, looking out for me, and keeping me grounded and focused. You told me to handle my business on the field and you would take care of the rest. You began as my agent, but ended up my brother.
To Shelly Schmidt, the assistant of all assistants. You have been nothing but wonderful. Thank you. My teammates and their friendships have been such a huge part of my success. In 1997, my rookie year, I watched guys like Joey Galloway, Sam Adams, Kevin Mawae, Winston Moss, Phillip Daniels, Chad Brown, and Willie Williams. I learned so much from these guys.
Thanks to all the running backs I blocked for during my career, Shaun Alexander, Mack Strong, Ricky Watters, Chris Warren, and Lamar Smith, and the great quarterbacks, John Kinta, John Friesz, Warren Moon, Brock Huard, Trent Dilfer, and Matt Hasselbeck.
Matt, I’m sorry I slapped you at training camp (laughing). But because I protect the quarterbacks, I have the right to slap the quarterbacks (laughing). You got mad at the O line. Love you too. You got mad at O line was having fun the last night of camp and slammed your door, so it was your fault and Robbie’s. Trent Dilfer, thanks for mentioning my name on TV.
To the guys I blocked with, went to battle with, to this day our relationships mean so much. Howard “House” Ballard, you taught me the ropes when I first came into the league. Robbie Tobeck, a special friend and leader. Thanks for the Sopranos and cigars. A true warrior and as tough as they come.
Sean Locklear for holding down the other side in my position while I was missing camp. I take great pride in that line. It was one of the best.
Steve Hutchinson, I really enjoyed playing next to you. What a great player. We were a pretty tough combo. Hutch, I promise there won’t be any ceasar salads at the party tonight. That’s an inside joke. But the camaraderie and special memories with my teammates are what I miss most.
To the other left guards I played with, I loved playing with you all. Pete Kendall, a true student and coach on the field. Thanks for making my rookie year easy, Rob Sims, Mike Wahle, Floyd Womack, and Chris Spencer, thank you.
I also got a chance to learn the importance of preparation from two Hall of Famers, Warren Moon and Jerry Rice. To all my O-line coaches, thank you. Howard Mudd, thanks for believing that I was the guy and giving me the left tackle spot from day one. Tom Lovat, thanks for making the game so easy. You’re a great teacher. To Mike Solari, so sorry I didn’t get a chance to work with you more, but it would have been fun.
To all the NFL tackles that came before me. Guys like Jonathan Ogden, Erik Williams, Orlando Pace, Willie Roaf, Jackie Slater, Art Shell, and Tony Boselli, it was an honor to watch you guys. Thanks for paving the way. A special thanks to the legendary Anthony Muñoz. In high school Coach Mac gave me a video of offensive line drills. After watching that video and witnessing the greatness that is Anthony Muñoz. It inspired me to be on the O line. I realized then that athletes could be on the O line. I’d also like to recognize former Seahawk great, Kenny Easley. I believe he is deserving of a place within these hallowed walls of the Hall of Fame.
Thank you, Paul Allen. What a great team owner. The Seattle Seahawks is a truly special organization. As most of you learned this past season, from top to bottom it is ruled with ethics that transcends from the front office, to the equipment room, to the coaching staff, and the training and medical staff, and ultimately from the owners to the fans. Thank you Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and Peter McLoughlin, for always welcoming me back to the VMAC training facility. And to the best equipment guy in the league, Erik Kennedy. Thanks to you and your staff past and present for taking care of me. EK, I am honored to call you a friend. To the Seattle media, thank you. I’ve enjoyed every interview, seriously. You were always fair to me and appreciate the role of what we do.
Thank you Mike Sando for presenting me to the Hall of Fame, though I didn’t need any help (laughing). Seriously, all of the news organizations for keeping me relevant, it’s been a great ride.
To the 12th Man, what a wonderful group of fans. I truly loved playing for you all, and training with you last season and always representing the 12. You complete the organization. Every Seahawk fan, I appreciate you. To the Hall of Fame and its wonderful staff, Dave Baker and Tammy Owens, thank you for preparing me for this weekend and taking care of me and my family.
A special thanks to Suzanne Lavender, Julie Barber, Shelly Schmidt, and Party 411 for helping me plan this special occasion.
Football has been a blessing. It has changed my life and those around me. It is a bond that keeps a family together, and provided opportunities where there was just inspiration and determination. The thing I’ve learned along this incredible journey, I’m not only cheering for the rest of my life, but pass it on to anyone that loves the game.
Thank you. Go Seahawks, and I love Seattle.