The man considered one of the best tackles of his generation has taken up a new hobby in photography. You'll often find him shooting Sounders game.
What do you call a Hall of Famer working on the field where he became Seattle sports royalty? What’s an appropriate name for a man who spends two halves reacting and anticipating as he did for 12 years in the NFL? What’s the right title for a legendary Seahawk who can’t walk 10 feet without a fan yelling out his name?
It’s pretty simple, actually. Rookie.
“I don’t even know if you can call me a rookie yet,” said the ever-humble Walter Jones, the man many consider the best offensive lineman of his generation. “Right now I’m more of a redshirt. Next year I’ll be a more like a rookie.”
This is where I was going to detail Jones’ new photography hobby, but once again, that might not be the right word. He insists that it’s a “passion,” not a hobby — something he’s throwing every pound of his behemoth self into.
Check out a Sounders home game these days, and you’ll most likely see Jones snapping away with his Canon 5D Mark III. Wanting to try something new a few months ago, Jones approached the team in hopes of getting a photo field pass and was granted one without hesitation.
Gallery | Walter Jones’ best shots
When a first-ballot Hall of Famer and former Seahawk Super Bowl participant makes such a request, you generally grant it. But Jones doesn’t wants his notoriety to be the driving force behind his photography career — he wants it to be the pictures themselves.
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“I want to get to the point where I feel comfortable handing out my card and saying ‘Hey, if you ever need some pictures taken, call me,’ ” said Jones, who does not yet have business cards. “It’s all about word-of-mouth. That’s the end goal, where people are seeing my pictures and say ‘Your photos are looking good.’ That’s when you give them a card and say ‘Hey, if you’re looking for some work, call me.’ “
Jones didn’t have a photographic epiphany that made him want to dive into this field, but whether it was taking prom pictures for his kids or snapping stills of the city, he found himself more and more drawn to the craft. And after developing relationships with various Sounders while attending practices, he thought it might be fun to document some of their exploits.
But this isn’t just leisure for the 44-year-old. This is Jones trying to develop a skill from scratch. So when he isn’t shooting corner kicks, he’s asking questions. When he isn’t taking action shots, he’s taking advice.
“Walter is going at photography with the same quiet zeal as he did as an offensive tackle that made him a Hall of Famer,” said Corky Trewin, a Sounders team photographer whose picture-taking with the Seahawks earned him a spot in the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame. “He is going to get better and better. He was never one as a football player to pound his chest and say ‘look at me.’ He just did his job extremely well. I expect the same from him as a photographer.”
Jones has a bit more free time to focus on photography these days. His twin children — Walterius and Waleria — just graduated high school and moved away. Walter admits an empty nest has taken a bit of an adjustment, but he certainly isn’t living an empty life.
Thursday, KING5 announced that Jones will be co-hosting the 5th Quarter alongside Paul Silvi after Seahawks games. And last Sunday, he attended Lenny Wilkens’ charity golf tournament, where he took pictures with just about every group on the course. The only downside to that appearance was Jones getting nailed on the ankle by a wayward golf ball, but he was still able to shoot the Sounders a few hours later.
What’s lies ahead for Jones and his photographic endeavors remains to be seen. He said he’d like to shoot some Mariners and Seahawks games in the not-so-distant future but doesn’t want to be limited to sports.
Though he doesn’t need the money, a paycheck for his work would bring him a unique sense of satisfaction. We know a picture is worth a thousand words — perhaps one day Walt’s will be worth a thousand bucks.
That isn’t what Jones is focused on right now, though. Right now, it’s about getting better every day and developing into a true pro. It’ll take time, but the man has a vision.
Good trait for a photographer.