If Dallas Cowboys legendary defensive tackle Randy White had been in the room when the votes were being cast for the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, Joe Jacoby would be in.
In fact, White — a Hall of Famer himself and one of the greatest defensive players ever to step on the field — was considering making the trip to Canton to be there for Jacoby’s induction.
“Joe, what a super nice person,” White told me in a recent conversation on the Cigars & Curveballs podcast. “Anyone who has ever met Joe Jacoby has got to like him. But when he played football, he was tough, and as good as there ever was. I am hoping he gets into the Hall of Fame. I haven’t been back there in a while, but if Joe gets in I may try to sneak up there and go to his induction. I hope he makes it.”
As we know, Jacoby didn’t make it in that Saturday balloting, and his absence speaks volumes about a broken system of voting for the game’s greatest honor.
How else do you explain Jacoby — who anchored one of the highest profile offensive lines in football history, the Hogs — being passed over 20 times, sometimes a finalist, sometimes not even making it that far? Twenty times!
How else do you explain Jacoby — one of the few Redskins to have played on all four of Joe Gibbs’ Super Bowl teams, with three rings to show for it — not getting the necessary votes in at least one of these 20 ballots except that the system is broken?
What is the response from voters who have sat in that room, some of them for 20 years, and watched Joe Jacoby — voted to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1980s, meaning he was considered one of the dominant offensive tackles of his era, by, ironically, Hall of Fame voters — be dealt a bad hand, year after year?
What is the response to this?
I doubt that many voters would publicly say that Jacoby shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. They will likely say he is a victim of the numbers. Well, when the numbers keep one of the greatest offensive tackles of his time out of Canton, then someone needs to do something about the numbers.
Someone needs to fix a broken system.
I’m not going to slam the voters themselves. I’m sure most of them — writers, broadcasters — do the best job they can and put a lot of work into their choices. I know, as a Baseball Hall of Fame voter, how brutal the criticism can be when you pass over candidates who are clearly qualified — at least in the eyes of their supporters.
But baseball’s system at least is one where each voter is left with their own thoughts, knowledge and biases when they fill out a paper ballot they receive in the mail. It’s a simple but effective process, and now becoming more transparent, as voters willingly make their ballots public.
But this white puff of smoke emerging from a closed-door meeting system where voters have to present a case for candidates reeks of deal making and calls into question the validity of the decision making. It’s something out of the dark ages. All that’s missing is a Chicago alderman.
Joe Jacoby passed over the 20 years is proof that changes need to be made.
He was part of an offensive line — with his friend and teammate, Hall of Fame guard Russ Grimm — that went up against a trio of some of the greatest defensive players ever, in Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor and Randy White.
White called Jacoby “one of the best that ever played the game.
“They were tough,” White said. “:I remember seeing Joe Jacoby at a Pro Bowl game. When I saw him I thought no wonder this guy … when he would block down on me, it felt like a truck hit me. … He was solid as a rock, big and tall. Most of the time those big guys are a little soft, but Joe was 310 pounds of solid muscle. When he would block down on me, I had to give it everything I could to smash into him
“He is going to get into the Hall of Fame, it’s just a matter of when,” White said “I hope it is this year because he is very deserving of it. I can tell you he’s one of the greatest players I ever played against. I have all the respect in the world for him.”
White is right — Jacoby will get in the Hall of Fame, now through the senior selection committee, which will likely right the wrong quickly. Jacoby was as big as he played on the football field in his response to being passed over yet again.
“Always an honor to be included among the best in our sport,” he responded on social media. “I didn’t get here alone, but with my entire Redskins family. I am beyond humbled by the outpouring of love being an NFL finalist has brought me and my family. The Redskins fans are in a league of their own and I wouldn’t want to be here representing any other team. Now I am going to enjoy a wonderful evening with my beautiful family.”
I’m sure every one of the voters who selected this year’s class feel each of the candidates are deserving — just like every other class for 19 years previously. Somehow, Joe Jacoby wasn’t.
That’s a system no one should be proud of.
⦁ Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.
• Thom Loverro can be reached at email@example.com.
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