Big Walt lends a big hand

Walter Jones, the former Pro Bowl left tackle, had a mold made of his massive right hand on Friday as part of the opening ceremonies for the new Seahawks and Sounders FC Pro Shop in downtown Seattle.

Walter Jones always has done things in a big way.

Friday was no different, when the Seahawks’ former Pro Bowl left tackle had a mold made of his right hand as part of the grand-opening ceremonies for the new Seahawks and Sounders FC Pro Shop in downtown Seattle.

Before he actually put his paw in the solution to create a mold that would then be filled with cement, a representative of Abbott Construction who was in charge of the process asked to see Jones’ hand. As the 6-foot-5, 300-plus pound Jones extended a hand that is in proportion to his body, the response was one word: “Whoa.”

Duly impressed, but undaunted, the procedure went on as planned – on the sidewalk outside the store, as a large crowd packed the sidewalk and even spilled into the street.

“To be a part of this grand opening was great,” said Jones, who retired last year after a highly decorated 13-season career. “The Pro Shop is something that will always be here, so I guess my hand will be, too. So that’s cool.”

One of the fans who came specifically to see Jones was Alex Stone, who somehow maneuvered his wheelchair through the crowd to have his picture taken with Jones and get his autograph.

“I watched Walter play as I was growing up, and he’s a pretty legendary guy,” said Stone, 25, who lives in Bothell. “This was the first time I’d met him. He’s a really nice guy.

“And the store is pretty cool, too.”

Stone will get no argument from Sue Harris, director of retail operations for the Seahawks and Sounders FC, and her staff. As soon as the doors opened Friday morning, Harris estimated it took only minutes before a crowd of 50-plus people were inside the Pro Shop. The grand-opening festivities continue Saturday and Sunday, with return appearances by Blitz, Blue Thunder, Sound Wave and members of the Sea Gals.

“This is a great location, with great street presence,” Harris said of the 3,300 square-foot store that is close to the intersection of Pike and Fifth Avenue and replaces the Pro Shop that had been on the third level of the Pacific Center.

“We’re right on the corridor of between Pike Place Market and the Convention Center, so there’s great foot traffic. It’s been a great first day.”

That foot traffic threatened to turn into pedestrian gridlock as the crowd tripled – if not quadrupled – by the time Jones and Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller were slipping their mitts into the solution. Passersby, meanwhile, weren’t quite sure what to make of the overflow gathering, or the reason for it.

Jones and Keller had to keep their hands submerged for roughly five minutes so the solution could set. The impression was then taken to the Abbott Construction laboratory so it could be filled with cement. The molds are expected to be on display at the Pro Shop by early next week.

“It was kind of weird,” Jones said of standing so still while the mold was setting. “You’re worried about if you’re doing everything right.”

Jones did little wrong during his career, when he was voted All-Pro six times to go with his club-record nine Pro Bowl berths. His number (71) was retired last season during a ceremony at Qwest Field and added to those of Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent (80) and the team’s 12th Man fans (12) in the rafters of the stadium that now goes by CenturyLink Field.

But Friday’s event was another first for Jones, who figures he’d better get used to the sensation as he moves into his post-football life.

“Right now, I’m thinking everything I do from now on is going to be a first for me,” he said. “I played for 13 years and enjoyed football. But now I’m taking in everything that comes with having done that, and what’s going to come for me.

“You enjoy it, appreciate it and look forward to it.”