The nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle has reached the finals in the same fashion he advanced through the first two rounds – convincingly. No, make that ridiculously convincingly. Jones collected 81 percent of the votes (849) in his semifinal matchup against Kenny Easley. That left Easley, the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 1984 and a five-time Pro Bowl strong safety, with 19 percent – or 195 votes.
Not that this is anything new for Jones, who collected a bracket-best 97 percent of the votes in his opening-round matchup against cornerback Shawn Springs and 82 percent in his second-round matchup against middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu.
All that stands between Jones and the title is …
Today: Shaun Alexander or Cortez Kennedy.
They did their things in different decades and on opposite sides of the ball, and few did it any better.
Alexander’s prodigiously productive seven-year run as the team’s leading rusher was capped by a 2005 season that saw him lead the NFL in rushing, score a then-league record 28 touchdowns and become the first player in franchise history to be voted league MVP. Before he was done, Alexander had become the club’s all-time leader in rushing yards (9,429) and attempts (2,179); and total (112) and rushing touchdowns (100).
Kennedy, meanwhile, had his best season in 1992 – when he collected 14 of his career 58 sacks and 93 of his career 668 tackles in being voted NFL defensive player of the year. He did all that on a team that finished 2-14. By the time he called it a career, Kennedy had been voted to eight Pro Bowls and named All-Pro four times. He was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2006.
The most productive running back in franchise history? Or the franchise’s most-decorated defensive player? You make the call.
Tomorrow: The title matchup between Jones and the winner of the Alexander-Kennedy semifinal.