In a move that’s been expected for a while, Walter Jones officially announced his retirement from the NFL. The Seahawks prepared themselves for the announcement last week when they drafted Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung with the sixth pick in the draft.
Jones retires with nine Pro Bowls over a 13-year career that ends due to lingering knee issues. Jones hadn’t played a game since Thanksgiving in 2008, so it’s not exactly shocking that he’s decided to hang up his cleats.
The Seahawks are already in the process of retiring Jones’ No. 71 jersey — a rarity in Seattle.
Other than Jones, the Seahawks have only retired two other numbers: Steve Largent’s No. 80, and No. 12 in commemoration of the “12th man,” which is the nickname of the Seahawks’ fanbase.
Okung clearly has huge shoes to fill as he steps in for Jones. The rookie will constantly be compared to Jones throughout his career, but that’s incredibly unfair for anyone, much less a rookie.
Jones should almost certainly be a part of the 2015 Hall of Fame class, and could be remembered with guys like Jonathan Ogden and Tony Bosseli as the best left tackle to ever play the game. The odds of Okung ever becoming that good are very slim, but he should, at the very least, lead a very productive career as a very good pass-blocking left tackle.
If Pete Carroll is smart, he will reach out to Jones and see if he’s willing to mentor Okung. There’s a lot the rookie could learn from a future Hall-0f-Fame inductee like Jones, and it might be something Jones is willing to do.
Jones leaves the game as not only one of the best to ever play, but one of the most humble, as well.