NEW YORK — During his 12 seasons as a left offensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks, Walter Jones took on the some of the toughest athletes in the world.
But nothing prepared him for the anxious hour he endured Saturday before learning he’d been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I was sitting there with my son, and he was telling me, ‘Calm down, Dad,’” Jones said outside the auditorium at the Radio City Music Hall, where he and six other inductees from the Hall’s Class of 2014 were introduced during an NFL Network awards show.
“The last hour is so tough. You have to try to turn the TV off because everybody is talking about it and predicting. You have to play the what-if game.
“Waiting for the phone call, it almost felt like going out for the basketball team. You’re waiting to see if you made the A Team or the B Team. You say, ‘I know I did good, but did I make it?’”
Jones, a six-time All Pro voted into nine Pro Bowls, became the 10th offensive lineman chosen for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
He joins a list — the A Team, to be sure — of interior-blocking legends: Jim Parker, Forrest Gregg, Jim Langer, Gene Upshaw, John Hannah, Anthony Muñoz, Bruce Matthews, Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden.
Jones hasn’t decided on his choice to present him at the induction ceremony this summer at Canton, Ohio. But he hinted that his 14-year old son Walterius, who helped his nervous dad make it through the afternoon, is a candidate.
“With your kids, you try to steer them away from a lot of stuff because you’re trying to be a parent,” said Jones. “I didn’t want him to see the raw emotion.
“You don’t want to be a disappointment to your son.”
Jones will be introduced Sunday afternoon at Super Bowl XLVIII, along with when the rest of the Hall of Fame’s 2014 class: linebacker (and fellow Florida State product) Derrick Brooks, wide receiver Andre Reed, cornerback Aeneas Williams, punter Ray Guy, and defensive ends Michael Strahan and Claude Humphrey.
It will be a joyous occasion for all, but only Jones — one of the three Hall of Famers to have played his career entirely with the Seahawks, along with wide receiver Steve Largent and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy — will have the benefit of watching his former team attempt to win its first Lombardi Trophy.
“I’ll be on that field,” he said, “and the Seahawks have a chance to do something special. I’m happy to be a Hall of Famer and to share that with them tomorrow.”
Seattle was shut out of the other major award categories announced Saturday. Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was named Associated Press defensive player of the year — Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas likely canceled each other out — and the Panthers’ Ron Rivera was the Associated Press’ choice as coach of the year.
But then, there are postseason awards, and there are Hall of Fame plaques. Postseason awards are briefly celebrated and then put on a shelf. Canton is for the NFL’s immortals.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds, Jones, 40, remains a giant man whose Hall-of-Fame bust will be big enough to affect the international bronze market.
“The jokes are gonna come, but I’m looking forward to them,” said Jones. “I’m a Hall of Famer.”