Roman Gabriel played 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles and went to four Pro Bowls. He was the NFL MVP in 1969 with the Rams and won his only NFL passing title in 1973 in his first season with the Eagles.
In 1927, when NFL owners discussed banning black players, eight of the nine African-American players disappeared from pro football. Duke Slater was the lone exception — and he remained the league’s only African-American player from 1927-29.
A member of the 1980s NFL all-decade team, Joe Jacoby’s blocking helped the Redskins win three Super Bowls. He played left tackle in the first two and right tackle in the third and final Super Bowl in 1992.
If players were voted into Canton based strictly on productivity, Joe Jacoby and Everson Walls would already have their busts. But Jacoby didn’t get into the room as a finalist until his 18th year of eligibility and Walls didn’t reach the room until his 20th year. The clock was ticking on them the moment they arrived. They wouldn’t have the luxury of 20 years of potential discussions like a Lewis, Moss and Urlacher.
Joe Jacoby started in four Super Bowls and his Washington Redskins won three of them. Jacoby started at left tackle for the first two Lombardi Trophy winners in the 1980s and at right tackle for that third NFL champion in 1991.
In the last 12 Hall of Fame classes, offensive linemen have been shut out only twice (also 2011). The last time two blockers were inducted the same year was 2013 when Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen both received busts. But that was when the classes included six modern-era candidates.
At least six Hall-of-Fame worthy candidates are in their last year of eligibility as modern-era candidates, and if they don’t make it to Canton as part of the Class of 2018 they might never make it, period.
The sad truth about former Washington tackle Joe Jacoby is that if he doesn’t make it to Canton in 2018, his odds of getting there increase dramatically — and that is being kind — as a senior candidate.
LaDainian Tomlinson is the only certainty with this year’s Hall of Fame class. The class is so uncertain that as many as seven all-decade choices could be left on the outside — with few certain just who they are or could be.