Posts Tagged ‘Joe Jacoby’

The Baffling Hall of Fame Denial of Joe Jacoby

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

by Gus Griffin







It is not uncommon for an honor or denial of an honor to happen in sports with which I do not agree. However, in most such cases, I at least understand the why. For example, Terrell Owens should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. He was not simply because a number of voters just did not like him. As sorry of an explanation as that is, it was an explanation.

No such explanation is at all clear why after 20 years of eligibility, the great Washington offensive tackle Joe Jacoby is still not a Hall of Famer.

The resume is easy to note. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All Pro, and three-time Super Bowl champion.

The situational case for Jacoby is even more compelling. He was undrafted out of Louisville and thus perhaps the greatest undrafted linemen (argument from Miami’s Jim Langer) in NFL history. Along with guard Russ Grimm, who is deservedly in the Hall of Fame, he was one of the two best linemen on one of the 2-3 best offensive lines of the Super Bowl era, along with the Cowboys of the 90s and the Raiders of the 70s. This line was affectionately known as, “the Hogs”. My primary reasoning for liking his team was that they could beat the Cowboys. Jacoby’s arrival initiated a changing of the guard in the NFC East from Dallas to Washington as the “Bully on the Block”. But in addition to that, what was fun and unique about the Washington O-line of the 80s is that their effectiveness was not so much based on scheme or chop blocking, but on raw smash-mouth football.  It is said that they only used four different running plays. They were known to walk up to the line of scrimmage and literally tell the opposing defensive linemen what they intended to do and never bluffed. As Grimm said in his Hall of Fame induction speech, “there is nothing more satisfying than to move a grown man in the direction you want to move him and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it”. That is about as good of a drop the mic statement I have ever heard in football.

That is what this offensive line routinely did for the better part of 12 years. It was the mainstay over the Joe Gibbs era, the greatest in franchise history. For the three Super Bowl titles, there were three different starting QBs, 3 different primary running backs.  The constant was Art Monk at receiver and the offensive line with Grimm and Jacoby. That point cannot be overemphasized. If you look at Super Bowl winners, you will find a 68 Jets team that was subpar on defense. The 81-49ers team did not have much of a running game. What you will not find is any Super Bowl winning team that is subpar on the offensive line.

Another factor that speaks to Jacoby’s greatness and Hall of Fame merit was the caliber of pass rushers he faced. The Bears had Richard Dent, the Vikings had Chris Doleman, the 49ers had Fred Dean and then Charles Haley, the Saints had Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling, and the Rams had Kevin Greene. Those were merely pass rushers outside of the division. Within the NFC East, twice a year from the all-important left tackle positon, the QBs blind side, Jacoby saw Clyde Simmons and Reggie White from the Eagles, “Too Tall” Jones, Harvey Martin, and then Jim Jeffcoat from the Cowboys, Curtis Greer and then Freddie Joe Nunn from the Cardinals, and finally Leonard Marshall and the great Lawrence Taylor from the Giants.  Every pass rusher listed here is either in the Hall of Fame or at the very least recorded multiple double-digit sack seasons over his career. There is no way Washington gets out of the NFC 4 times, much less win three Super Bowls unless Jacoby could hold his own blocking these game wreckers.

Therefore, for me the case is clear. I do not know why it is not for Hall of Fame voters, but I have two theories. One is that Jacoby is not the best at lobbying for himself. He is clearly intelligent and a man of diverse talents, which is evident from his starting multiple successful businesses in his post football days. However, he is not the most articulate and it just does not seem to be in his personality to promote himself. Of course, in the world of professional sports where one’s work is as transparent as any other endeavor, being well spoken should not have anything to do with one’s Hall of Fame candidacy.

My only other theory is the fact that the Jacoby teams during that era are generally underappreciated. When most think of that era, they think of the stylish offensive trendsetting 49ers, deservedly so given they won five Super Bowls, to include a repeat in 88-89. Others will think of the Bears with their Super Bowl Shuffle and historic 85 defense, or the Giants playing out of New York more than Washington does. Yes, New York had Washington’s number but Washington won three Super Bowls, which is the the same as the Giants and Bears combined, in that era. In 1983, Washington also set what was then the single season scoring record. Would the Washington teams from Jacoby’s era be more appreciated had they finished the mission of repeating as Super Bowl champs by beating the Raiders? Likely. That is no excuse.

Joseph Erwin Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame and the longer he is denied the more the voters indict their own credibility.


Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports