We’ve been thinking a lot about legacies lately. In light of the recent news about Joe Jacoby failing to make the Hall of Fame, I thought I’d take a few minutes to complain about Jacoby and maybe another Commander or two. Or six. But I don’t have a major agenda here – no pushing of the “Otis Wonsley HOF Train.” Just a bit of perspective – my own perspective, that is.
First off, it’s important to realize that every single fan base in every state, city, and burg, feels that they have been disrespected because one of their local heroes has not been stamped with HOF greatness. We may feel it about Jake here, but we are not alone.
Do you think Seth Joyner is a Hall of Famer? I don’t, but I would never say that in front of a Philly fan. (If any Philly fans are reading, I’m kidding about Joyner – the most awesome No. 59 there ever was.)
Pretty much the entire Steelers team from the ‘70s is in the Hall, including two water boys and the lady who made the cheesesteaks in the 200 level food court, but those Steeler fans still get mad when they remember that Andy Russell isn’t enshrined. (Oh, and you Steeler fans – I was just kidding about Seth Joyner being the best No. 59. Everyone knows it was really Jack Ham.)
My god, I was recently reading a piece about the Chargers which argued that Dan Macek should be in the Hall of Fame. There were more egregious Charger omissions mentioned in that article, but come on – the writer still felt the need to push the Dan Macek bandwagon. (Hey Bolt fans – Donnie Edwards was a pretty underrated No. 59 – but that’s as far as I’m willing to go.)
I think Jake has a much better HOF resume than any of these guys. For the record, I think he should be in. The championships and All-Pro selections are strong evidence, but these two quotes are really all I need:
“The HOGS were all excellent players, but certainly Joe and Russ were the anchors of that line. To do it, for as long as he did, on such a high level, it’s a surprise to me that he’s not in Canton already.”
“Joe blocked down on me a number of times and I know he was like a damn tank… I think Joe should be in the Hall of Fame. If I had a vote, I’d vote for him”
First quote is from Lawrence Taylor. Second, from Randy White. Those are two starters on my all-time defensive team (though I think Aaron Donald may be coming in for Randy pretty soon). I tend to put a lot of value in how they rate offensive linemen.
And that’s the problem, right? Offensive line is the least stat-dependent position in football. It is also the position most reliant on an entire group functioning as a unit. It is very hard to evaluate, especially if you only see the player occasionally, as is the case for most of us with most players in the league.
I think you could make the case that Jake isn’t one of the top two tackles in franchise history, and depending on how you value longevity, perhaps not in the top three. Tank Edwards, who played before most current fans were born, is in the Hall. I know many readers will hate the fact that Trent Williams will be one day. And neither of them was the greatest Washington tackle I ever saw (OK – I never saw Edwards play). That would be Jim Lachey, who for three years was as good as anyone who has ever played. But I’ll put Jake ahead of Lachey based on longevity.
Throw Chris Samuels into the mix and you can see that the field, even just among the Washington Commanders players, is crowded.
Jacoby was selected for the NFL All-Decade team for the 1980s. Every single offensive and defensive 1st team selection for that honor is already in the Hall. But Jake was a 2nd team selection. On offense, he joins 49er running back Roger Craig and Falcons guard Bill Fralic as the only 2nd teamers who have not been enshrined. Amongst all 2nd-teamers, only Jake and Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes have been finalists for the Hall three times or more.
Here’s a little Commanders trivia regarding the All-Decade teams and the HOF. Eight Washington players have been 1st team All Decade selections and have also made the Hall of Fame. Three of the five 2nd-teamers have also made the Hall. Jacoby and Dave Butz are the two 2nd-teamers who are not in Canton. But there is one Washington player who was a 1st-team All Decade performer who is not in the Hall. Can you name him?
While you ponder that, let’s bullet point the other Washington players who deserve some HOF attention.