By Larry Bisagni
This weekend, the Washington Redskins will host the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the NFL Playoffs, and it was announced today that the honorary captain for the home team is going to be all-time great Joe Jacoby. In a tweet, Jake said in part that he was “Humbled by this great honor.”
But it shouldn’t be the biggest football honor he receives this winter.
Joe Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame.
If you had to draw up a prototypical left tackle, he’d be in the 6’6” – 6’8” range. 300-plus pounds. Must be strong as an ox and as tough as nails. Possess the feet of a ballerina yet be as durable as granite. He has to be athletic and rangy enough to match up against an outside linebacker rushing off the edge, and brawny enough to neutralize a 300-pound defensive end.
You’re mentally sketching out Joe Jacoby.
In a nutshell, Big Jake was the prototype left tackle of the modern game. Along with Anthony Muñoz, they redefined the position, paving the way for the modern passing game.
One of the football mysteries I’ve never been able to solve is how in the world Jake wasn’t drafted. When you talk about the all-time great UFA’s, you won’t be talking very long with the name Joe Jacoby coming up. Given the way the game is played today and the manner in which prospects are scrutinized, Jake would be a top-5 pick on any of Mel Kiper or Todd McShay’s boards. Jacoby was an athletic 300 pounder that was a high school basketball standout in the hoop-crazy Commonwealth of Kentucky.
When you talk about body of work and quality of the competition, you’d be hard pressed to find any left tackle that lined up against as many Hall of Famers as Jacoby. When the NFC East was unquestionably the elite division in the game, Jake was taking on the best of the best twice a year in Reggie White and the Doomsday Defense, not to mention a guy named Lawrence Taylor, arguably the greatest defensive player in history. In fact, LT once said, “The hardest thing for me to deal with was that big, agile left tackle.”
Yeah, he was referring to Number 66.
Despite the weekly challenges from such legends of the game, Jacoby still repeatedly held his own enough to go to four Pro Bowls and was named to the 1980’s All-Decade Team. The other tackles named to that squad were Jimbo Covert, Gary Zimmerman, and the aforementioned Muñoz. With all respect to that trio, their schedules weren’t nearly as demanding on Sundays from September through December. The latter two are already enshrined in Canton. Jacoby has more rings than the rest of the group combined.
For years, the Redskins ran the counter trey to perfection. From John Riggins to Earnest Byner, they certainly had the running backs to do it. But they also had Joe Jacoby as the point blocker to lead the way. It’s no accident that Jake steamrolled the road for four 1,000-yard rushers, while giving three very different quarterbacks enough time to have 1,000 yard receivers and win three world championships. And as the Redskins offenses morphed and evolved, the one consistent was The Hogs, led by Jacoby. In fact, Jake is one of just two Redskin players to start all of the Super Bowl triumphs: quite a feat given the demands of his position.
Speaking of Super Bowls, Jacoby was at his best when the stage was biggest. In Super Bowl XVII, I’ll give you three guesses who John Riggins went inside of on his legendary 4th and 1 run, and you won’t need the last two. In XXII, Doug Williams lost his footing and slipped during the first quarter, giving the Bronco defense credit for the sack. From that point on, Jacoby and the Hogs turned it on, blowing holes wide open for Timmy Smith, while Williams was never sacked again that day en route to re-writing the record books, as well as history. XXVI? Mark Rypien didn’t go down once, and was only sacked nine times the entire 1991 season.
Oh, and the Monday night of Joe Theismann’s infamous career ending injury? Jacoby was not in the game. Now this is no swipe at Russ Grimm, who was filling in for Jake. He’s already Hall of Famer in his own right. If 66 were in there, history might have gone down a different path.
Jacoby went on to have success away from the gridiron as well. A tireless worker, he spent the offseason after his rookie year working in marketing for Anheuser-Busch. The work ethic didn’t fall far from the tree. One of his daughters is Ivy League educated, while the other went to Georgetown. From there, he delved into the importing business, sourcing products from Italy. He also spent five years learning the car business before purchasing his own dealership. Ironically, it was located just off of Interstate 66, west of D.C.
Headed towards Canton.