- - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There is still one missing piece to define the greatness of those Washington Redskins Super Bowl teams in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

There is, of course, Joe Gibbs, the coach who led those men to four Super Bowl appearances and three championships from 1981 through 1991. John Riggins put the team on his back in those three memorable playoff weeks in Washington, punctuated by 43-yard touchdown run in the 27-17 win in Super Bowl XVII.

There is Art Monk, the silent warrior who set the standard for professionalism, and Darrell Green, the cornerback who was the common thread throughout the defenses of each of those Redskins championship squads.

But what defined those Redskins teams — the tie that binds all of them — were the Hogs, the offensive linemen who led the way for three different quarterbacks and running backs. The Hogs had a cast of characters that changed during that time, but the main constant was the duo that anchored that line for much of that time.

Russ Grimm represents half of that duo already in Canton. But until Joe Jacoby is there by his side, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has unfinished business.

The Redskins’ great tackle is a finalist once again for induction into the Hall, one of 15 finalists, for the second straight season, with the vote scheduled for Saturday night before Super Bowl 51.

Hall of Fame credentials are often fodder for debate. There are Redskins who are worthy for consideration and debate, from kick returner and running back Brian Mitchell to receiver Gary Clark.

But some fall under the category of injustice. Jacoby, 57, in his 19th year of eligibility, a four-time Pro Bowler voted to the NFL 1980s All-Decade team as one of the dominant tackles of the decade, falls into that category.

“The ironic thing is the people who vote for those all decade teams are the same ones who vote for the Hall,” Jacoby told me in a conversation on my podcast Cigars & Curveballs. “Wait a minute, how do I get one and not the other?”

Don’t mistake that for bitterness, though. There’s not a bitter bone in Jacoby’s body.

“It shouldn’t be easy to get in,” he said. “It is worthwhile to get in once you get to that enshrinement.”

It is hard, particularly for offensive linemen. There is no statistical measurement. What there is, though, is the team’s body of work to illustrate their value. By that measurement, Jacoby should have been in long ago.

Super Bowl XXII alone should warrant Jacoby’s induction — that remarkable quarter of football when, after being down 10-0 to the Denver Broncos, the offense put up 35 points behind quarterback Doug Williams, who had been the backup earlier in the year, and rookie running back Timmy Smith. It wasn’t exactly Joe Montana and Roger Craig, yet it remains the greatest quarterback of Super Bowl football we’ve ever seen, and Jacoby was responsible for a good part of it.

“Playing over 20 years, in high school, college and the pros, I had never been involved in anything like I had seen in that 15 minutes of football,” Jacoby told me in my book, “Hail Victory,” the oral history of the Redskins. “I remember one play toward the end of the game when we scored our last touchdown. We were on the goal line and we ran one of our goal line plays, but the left guard, Raleigh McKenzie, had the wrong play. I was the only one who pulled, and we still scored. On the second long touchdown by Timmy Smith, you could see the look of dejection in their (Denver’s) faces.”

It was sort of like the look the Dallas Cowboys had on their faces in the 1982 NFC title game at RFK Stadium, a 31-17 Washington win.

“Nine straight times we ran one play,” Jacoby told me in our podcast conversation “And we’re telling them where it is coming. And they couldn’t stop it. The satisfaction of that, seeing their frustration, watching (Dallas defensive coordinator) Ernie Stautner on the sideline yelling at them to dig in, and we kept saying, ‘Here it comes, here is comes.’”

Last year, St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace got in. Jacoby’s competition for voters at offensive line this time around includes longtime Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Tony Boselli, Steelers guard Alan Faneca and center/guard Kevin Mawae.

Jacoby has long since given up determining the criteria voters (Pro Football Writers Association of America) use for induction. “It is kind of an area that you don’t have any control over,” he said. “You hope things will work out, and we’ll see what happens in the future.

“People talk to me about it and think I have some kind of input on this,” Jacoby said. “My input was 20 plus years ago (on the football field), my body of work, and now it is up to whether or not people think it was worthy of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. That will play out. There are a lot of great players who have slipped through the cracks but it is a tough thing to get in. You don’t know what criteria play a part in it.”

Offensive linemen should have an easier path than anyone, because no position defines team more than those who paved the way for success. Grimm was one of them, and was honored with induction in 2010.

He needs Jacoby by his side.

Russ and I hit it off immediately, the first mini-camp,” Jacoby said. “It was like he was my brother. We were in each other’s weddings. It was a great bond. It grew off that to this day. We went to four Super Bowls in 10 years. Not a lot of other teams have done that.”

“The mainstay was the four of us who were there for all four Super Bowls. Russ, myself, (center) Jeff (Bostic) and (tight end) Donnie (Warren). You don’t see the same quarterbacks or running backs or receivers. It was the guys up front who were the engine. We take great pride in what we did.”

It is earned and deserved pride. Now it is time to be rewarded and honored.

• Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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