Seattle Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones announced his retirement from professional football on Thursday.
The Seahawks also announced that they will immediately retire his #71.
Chosen with the sixth overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft out of Florida State, Jones (6-5, 325) started all of his 180 regular season games during his 13-year career, the entirety of which was spent with the Seahawks. Jones' 180 starts are the second-most in franchise history, behind only 1995 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Steve Largent, and his 180 games are the fourth-most in franchise history.
Jones was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in October of 1997, and was a consensus first-team All-Rookie selection, the first of what would eventually become a lengthy list of accolades Jones' would earn throughout his career.
Named to his first Pro Bowl in 1999—the first Seahawks offensive lineman to play in a Pro Bowl--Jones would be named to eight straight Pro Bowls between 2001 and 2008, and his nine Pro Bowls have set a new franchise record, breaking the mark established by defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy.
Widely regarded as the one of the best left tackles in NFL history, Jones was named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2000s in January.
As his peers recognized his ability and performance, so, too, did his coaches and the media.
Former Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren called Walter Jones "the greatest offensive player I ever coached", an amazing compliment considering Holmgren coached Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, and Brett Favre.
Jones was named first-team All-Pro on four occasions (2001, 2004-05, 2007) and was second-team All-Pro twice, including in 2008, when Jones played in just 12 games, including the last one he'd ever play, a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys in the freshly demolished Texas Stadium.
Jones injured his left knee that day in Dallas, which turned out to be the injury that would end his storied career.
Like most NFL players, Jones played through injuries that would debilitate the common man. Jones underwent multiple shoulder surgeries, had broken fingers, sprained ankles, etc…Unlike other NFL players, Jones had a kidney condition that didn't allow him to take any pain medication stronger than Tylenol, making the remarkable durability he displayed throughout his career even more impressive.
Jones underwent microfracture surgery on his knee last December, which required a clean-up procedure in August. Jones also injured his back on the opening days of training camp, and while he continued to rehabilitate the injuries, he was placed on injured reserve last October.
Remembering Walter Jones
"An Appreciation for the great Walter Jones" – ESPN.com's Mike Sando
"Walter Jones Revisited" – Dave Boling, Tacoma News Tribune
"Abyssinia, Walter" – Doug Farrar, Yahoo.com