Jones a deserving first-ballot Hall selection

NEW YORK -- Was there ever any doubt? Walter Jones is one of the best offensive tackles in the history of the NFL, and arguably the best in history.

So it should come as no surprise the former Seattle Seahawks lineman now is a first-ballot selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The official announcement came at Radio City Music Hall Saturday night at the NFL Honors ceremony.

Jones is only the sixth offensive tackle to earn election in his first year of eligibility. The others are Jim Parker of the Baltimore Colts in 1973, Forrest Gregg of the Green Bay Packers in 1977, Anthony Munoz of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1998, Jackie Slater of the Rams in 2001, and Jonathan Ogden of the Baltimore Ravens last year.

Jones is the 12th offensive lineman to earn first-ballot induction. He also becomes the third member of the Hall who played his entire career with the Seahawks, joining wide receiver Steve Largent and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy. Largent also was a first-ballot inductee.

Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has said many times that Jones was the best offensive lineman he ever coached.

“We didn’t even worry about that side of the offensive line when we were game planning,” Holmgren said. “It didn’t matter who was going against him. We knew Walter would get the job done.”

Jones’ stats make it easy to understand why he made it in the Hall on his first year of eligibility He is a nine-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro. Jones, who played from 1997 to 2008, was named to NFL's All-Decade Team of 2000s.

He started all 180 games he played for the Seahawks and was whistled for holding only nine times in 5,703 pass plays while he was on the field. That's once every 634 plays.

Jones allowed only 23 sacks during his entire career, which is only one in every 248 pass plays.

Seattle’s Russell Okung, who replaced Jones and made the Pro Bowl last season, said he has the utmost respect for Jones.

“Talk about some big shoes to fill,” Okung said this week. “You’re coming in expecting to be just like him, but he’ll go down as one of the best ever.”