The sad truth about what’s next for Joe Jacoby and HOF


Joe Jacoby photo curtesy of Washington Redskins

Despite stiff competition at his position, former offensive lineman Joe Jacoby was supposed to have his best chance of reaching the Pro Football Hall of Fame this month. Other than running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Kurt Warner, the field was wide open, with Jacoby an early favorite to join them in the Class of 2017.

Except he didn’t.

Not only did Jacoby miss the final cut; he missed the first one from 15 modern-era candidates to 10, with two of the four offensive-line candidates moving past him. And that’s trouble for Joe Jacoby. Deep trouble. Because unlike all the others discussed last weekend, the clock is running out on his Hall-of-Fame candidacy.

Look, this isn’t Terrell Owens, in his second year of eligibility, and this isn’t Isaac Bruce, in his third, or Brian Dawkins in his first. Nope, this is a guy who was in his 19th, and that’s the issue.

Because if Joe Jacoby is not elected as a modern-era candidate in 2018, he moves out of the shallow end of the pool into the wild, blue yonder – otherwise defined as the senior pool of candidates. That list is reserved for players out of the game more than 25 seasons – meaning a five-year waiting period and 20 years or more of eligibility — and it is exactly where you do not want to go.

Reason? The chances are good you never get out.

And that’s another issue completely. There are too many – way too many – deserving candidates who have been forgotten as seniors. Guys like safety Johnny Robinson, guard Jerry Kramer, wide receiver Drew Pearson, tackle Al Wistert, safety Cliff Harris and quarterbacks Ken Anderson and Jim Plunkett.

And that’s just the beginning.

There are 101 candidates from all-decade teams of the 1920s through the 1990s who are not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And that includes Kramer, a starting guard on the Hall’s 50th anniversary team, and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson who was an all-decade choice (twice, no less) and the return specialist on the 75th anniversary team.

Johnson is the only member of that squad not enshrined.

So let’s just say Jacoby is not elected in 2018. He then moves out of the modern-era category to join all-decade tackles Jimbo Covert and Ralph Neely on the island of forgotten players. Those three are the only all-decade tackles from the 1950s, 1960s, ’70s or ’80s not enshrined in Canton, and tell me you like their chances of getting senior nominations when guys like Robert Brazile, Maxie Baughan, Alex Karras, L.C. Greenwood and Harvey Martin have been waiting.

The sad truth is: There are too many deserving Hall-of-Fame candidates who have been lost as seniors and who need to be recognized. But until or unless the system is tweaked or overhauled, that won’t happen, and luminaries like Kramer, Covert, Pearson and Robinson will continue to be ignored.

Jacoby, too, unless his candidacy somehow regains momentum in 2018. But how does that happen? He was a first-time finalist in 2016 in his 18th year of eligibility, which was something of a surprise. And then, after his case was heard, he made the cut to the Top 10 – identifying him as a sleeper for the Class of 2017.

Except he wasn’t. With three other offensive linemen as finalists, Jacoby went backward instead of forward – finishing out of the Top 10. Worse, two offensive linemen who were first-time finalists –tackle Tony Boselli and center Kevin Mawae – surged past him into the final 10.

So that means that, unless voters change dramatically for 2018, the room favors two offensive linemen — including a tackle — over Jacoby. That’s strike number one.

Now, look at the field for 2018. It includes first-time eligibles Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Steve Hutchinson, Ronde Barber and Richard Seymour – all all-decade choices, with Lewis a virtual slam-dunk to get in. That’s more than a minefield. It’s strike number two.

So, wait a minute. If Joe Jacoby’s candidacy doesn’t regain its footing in the face of overwhelming odds while in his last year of eligibility as a modern-era candidate, then what?

Well, then, it’s strike number three.

 

 

 

 

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19 Comments

  1. Marc
    February 12, 2017
    Reply

    Has there been talk of doing more to get these senior candidates back in to the conversation more than just the one/two senior nominee(s)? Something to prevent them from being lost.

    How about a 100th anniversary HOF class in addition to the normal class? Have the 5-8 members like normal and then do a special 10 person class of all-decade players that have been lost in the shuffle.

    The class could look like this
    20s – Lavvie Dilweg
    30s – Cecil Isbell
    40s – Mac Speedi
    50s- Alan Ameche
    60s – Jerry Kramer (or Karras or Nobis)
    70s – Drew Pearson (or Greenwood)
    80s- Lester Hayes (or Jacoby if he doesn’t reach)
    90s – LeRoy Butler or Steve Atwater
    00s – Faneca, Mawae, or Dawkins
    10s – TBD

    9 decades of all decade players represented with 1 additional name that played in the 10s. Or just do 2 from one decade.

    10 additional inductions on a special 100 year anniversary would hardly be oversaturation of the HOF. It would help with players that have gone into the abyss and positional logjams. Thoughts?

    • February 12, 2017
      Reply

      Funny you should mention that. Goose has proposed it, and I think the Hall is at least considering something along those lines … if not something bigger. But the idea is a good one. We have just let too many of these guys slip into the abyss.

      • Jeff
        February 17, 2017
        Reply

        This is a great, great idea. I’m ticked that the Hall added this contributor category at the expense of a senior slot every other year. The issue they really needed to address wasn’t too few contributors inducted…it’s the huge and growing backlog of outstanding senior players.

        • February 17, 2017
          Reply

          Bingo. You are absolutely right. There are so many deserving seniors and removing one every other year makes no sense. Really hope they have an amnesty for 100th anniversary. Terrell Owens wants in now, right? What about Drew Pearson? What about Billy Howton? These guys waited forever and can’t even get in the room. And they’re just the top of the iceberg. Really hope some of these seniors get their just reward. Been ignored for far too long.

  2. Marc
    February 12, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for the response. 100 years of the NFL celebration which I believe coincides with the Canton HOF Village completion. Sure would be a special event.

    Also important to be sympathetic to the age of some of these candidates. I had a chance to attend the enshrinement last year. I couldn’t help but have mixed emotions for Stabler and Stanfel as they didn’t get a chance to participate in their honor.

    • February 12, 2017
      Reply

      You are right. You want to get these guys the recognition while they can enjoy it. Feel the same about Stabler. The party would still be going.

  3. bachslunch
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    My choices for anniversary catch-up if limited to all decade teams only:

    20s: Lavvie Dilweg
    30s: Ox Emerson
    40s: Al Wistert (though tough to leave off Speedie)
    50s: Dick Barwegen (tough to leave off Fortunato)
    60s: Jerry Kramer (tough to leave off Shofner, Meador, Karras, Boyd)
    AllAFL: Johnny Robinson (tough to leave off Tyrer, Grayson, Hill, Sweeney)
    70s: Robert Brazile (tough to leave off Harris, Pearson, Greenwood, Carmichael)
    80s: Deron Cherry (tough to leave off Browner, Hayes, Jacoby)
    90s: Steve Atwater (tough to leave off Butler, Anderson, Wisniewski)

    But that ignores non all decade team folks like Ken Anderson, Chuck Howley, Duke Slater, Verne Lewellen, Maxie Baughan, Harold Jackson, Billy Howton, and countless others.

    • February 13, 2017
      Reply

      Good list. And youre right. Tough to leave others off. Now you know what senior committee is up against.

  4. Martin Sexton
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    This is a great idea to honor those players who no doubt should have been HOF’s and have fallen through the cracks. Hopefully they will get something like this done. Players like Kramer, Pearson, L.C Greenwood, and so many others deserve that recognition. Kind of off the subject, how does the contributor selection work? It would be nice if they would recognize the man who revolutionized the way NFL scouting and the draft is handled, Gil Brandt. Even now through his Sirius Satellite Radio job and NFL .Com, he is promoting the finding of new talent for the NFL. Without Gil, there is no Bob Hayes, Cornell Green, or discovering undrafted players like Drew Pearson.

    • bachslunch
      February 13, 2017
      Reply

      Best I can tell, Gil Brandt has been on the short list for Contributors since the category began. He and George Young and Bobby Beathard are probably the three most deserving GM types not in the HoF.

      • February 13, 2017
        Reply

        Bucko kilroy, too. But you are dead solid perfect with that. Believe Beathard should be next in line. Overdue.

        • bachslunch
          February 13, 2017
          Reply

          I can see the argument for Kilroy. His GM accomplishments might not equal those of Young/Brandt/Beathard but he has two other boosts. One: he was a borderline HoF player (3/3/40s). Two: he is credited with establishing the NFL Rookie Combine. He’s essentially a combo type candidate. I’d prefer to see Young, Brandt, Beathard, Sabol, and McNally make it in first, but Kilroy has a case for sure.

          • February 13, 2017

            you’re exactly right — a combo candidate, and, believe it or not, that may hurt his candidacy. still, believe he makes it one day. resume too compelling.

    • February 13, 2017
      Reply

      Martin, Gil has a lot of support. And he should make it. Great, great ambassador for the game and way ahead of his time when he was scouting and running personnel in Dallas. But do believe that Beathard probably goes in ahead of him. Beathard, Young, Gil and Bucko kilroy all are guys who are on the cusp.

  5. Joseph Wright
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    I thought for sure Joe Jacoby would go in almost immediately after Russ Grimm. Jacoby is to Grimm what Art Shell was to Gene Upshaw.

    • February 13, 2017
      Reply

      Funny you should say that. Same argument was made inside the room.

  6. Martin Sexton
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    This all great to hear. Most importantly, these are moves made outside the realm of players so no one can say that they are preventing a deserving player from making it. I think sometimes people are confused about this thinking that somehow a contributor like Jerry Jones making it is the reason their favorite player didn’t. In addition, I really appreciate the rational discussion here, which is more than I can hope for on many social media avenues.

    • February 14, 2017
      Reply

      Youre probably right about the Jones thing. But contributors are considered wholly apart from modern-era candidates. So are seniors. Thats why they created those categories. So they wouldnt interfere with modern-era players and vice versa. But way more seniors than contributors and really believe that coaches … and assistant coaches … should be considered contributors instead of being lumped together with players. Understand that could happen in future, but nothing definite.

  7. 1976 Pitt Panthers
    September 3, 2017
    Reply

    Jim Plunkett has the two SB rings, and the postseason record, but his regular season play just isn’t HOF quality. Hall of Very Good.

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