1) A protector ... with the stats to prove it
I know what you're thinking: Stats for an offensive lineman?!
Yes. Get this: In 12 seasons at left tackle -- that's 180 games, mind you -- Jones gave up all of 23 sacks. Think about that for a moment: That's fewer than two sacks per year, or approximately one every eight games. And when you consider that a tackle participates in something like 60 plays per game, well ... let's just say he didn't get beat too often.
That's the very definition of dominance.
2) Not every left tackle has his day
It's one thing to have an outstanding NFL career and become a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But to have an entire day set aside in your honor?
Jones retired on April 29, 2010, and then-Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire declared the following day -- April 30 -- would be known in the state that year as "Walter Jones Day," citing Jones' fine accomplishments. Hey, who isn't for celebrating a man's life? That said, I wouldn't think your average 18-year-old kid in Spokane searching Travelocity for trips to Fargo would even know what a left tackle is, much less that a particular left tackle would inspire so much love. Guess it goes to show just how strongly the Seahawks fan base felt about its premier lineman.
"They didn't give Shaun Alexander a day, I can tell you that," a random Seahawks homer working in our NFL.com office told me.
And then there's this: Recently, we selected Steve Largent as the greatest Seahawk on NFL.com -- and I got more than a few comments and tweets extolling the virtues of Jones over the legendary wideout.
3) One-year wunderkind
Jones is the greatest offensive lineman to ever come out of Florida State, which is saying something, considering what a football factory the school has been historically. But what really makes that fact interesting is that Jones played just 12 games there.
You see, Jones started his collegiate career at Holmes Community College, where he was named Mississippi Junior College Player of the Year by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger in 1994. Jones -- who even played a little tight end during that time -- transferred to Florida State in 1995, had to redshirt for a season, then became the starting left tackle for Bobby Bowden in 1996. Florida State went 11-1 that year, with the only loss coming in the national championship game against Florida. Jones' contribution: one sack allowed ... the whole season.
4) Tough exit
If your worst day as a professional comes courtesy of someone at the level of Ware and you were playing hurt, then I think you're doing OK.
5) The best of the best
In the 2005 season, Jones was at the top of his game. His dominance allowed Matt Hasselbeck to have a clean enough pocket that he could lead the NFL's top scoring offense (28.2 points per game). Shaun Alexander ran behind Jones and left guard Steve Hutchinson for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, earning NFL MVP honors.
For his part, Jones was named first team All-Pro by The Associated Press -- and the best player that year at any position by The Sporting News. That is to say, the mammoth tackle did his job better than anyone else in the league, and he was being recognized for it. That season featured stars like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Terrell Owens, Tony Gonzalez, Troy Polamalu and Jonathan Ogden -- among many others -- in their prime. To be placed at the top of the heap was an honor that almost couldn't be matched ...