Casserly: "No question" Joe Jacoby is a Hall of Famer

Joe Jacoby wasn't drafted, but he did play in the NFL ... so well, in fact, that he's a serious candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So does he belong? "Absolutely," says former GM Charley Casserly.


(Charley Casserly photo courtesy of the Houston Texans)

(Joe Jacoby cover photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

Talk of Fame Network

The Pro Football Hall of Fame last week released its list of 94 modern-era candidates for Class of 2017, and it wasn't long afterward that former general manager and now NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly started campaigning for one of the offensive linemen.

Joe Jacoby.

No surprise there. Casserly was a scout in Washington in 1981 when the Redskins signed Jacoby as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville. He went on to become a cornerstone of "The Hogs," Washington's decorated offensive line, and helped lead the Redskins to four Super Bowls and three Lombardi Trophies in 10 years.

Guard Russ Grimm was part of that offensive line, too, and he's in Canton. But Jacoby is not, and the obvious question is: Does he belong?

"Absolutely. No question in my mind," said Casserly on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. "He was a dominant left tackle in the toughest division in football. Most left tackles can't run block; he could run block. The guy was so big and so long with his arms that he was tough to get around. Plus, this guy ended up starting at more than one position during our championship run. And that's hard to do."


(Charley Casserly photo courtesy of the Houston Texans)

What is also hard to do is to go from an undrafted free agent to an all-decade choice, but that's exactly what happened to Jacoby, who was a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. Moreover, he was a Top 10-finalist this year for the Hall after failing to make the cut to 15 the previous 17 years -- something else that's hard to do.

So how did the NFL fail to draft him?

"It's interesting because it was 12 rounds back then," said Casserly. "I was in the right place at the right time with him when I scouted him. In the spring he wasn’t a prospect. A lot of times when a guy's not on the list, a lot of scouts won't even look at the guy.

"I came here during their last regular-season game, and they had played Florida and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh had a player named Greg Meisner, who ended up being a third-round pick. Jacoby's a left tackle. He shuts him out. The guy didn’t make a play. And he was a third-round player.

"Florida had a guy named (David) Galloway, who was a first-round rated player. He shuts him out. I'm thinking: 'Well, he's shutting these guys out. How's he doing it?' He was so big and so long, and that’s when you could start using your arms. If you could stay on your feet and you had balance and long arms and size, you could play offensive line."

The irony of it all is that when Washington signed Jacoby, then-coach Joe Gibbs -- a Hall of Famer -- thought he was signing a defensive lineman, not a potential Hall-of-Fame tackle. It wasn't until after a contract was offered and accepted that he found out Jacoby played the other side of the ball.

"We drafted five offensive linemen, and we didn’t draft him," said Casserly. "We go to sign him as a free agent, and Gibbs thought he was a defensive lineman and recruited him as a defensive lineman. You know the speech when a head coach is selling you on the team? Joe (Jacoby) was afraid to tell him he was an offensive lineman.

"So when we tell him we got him signed, Gibbs goes, 'That’s great. We need another defensive lineman.' (And we say), 'No, Joe, he's an offensive lineman.' (And Joe says) 'Can we get out of it?' 'No, we can't get out of it.'

"I had been recruiting the guy all spring, trying to get the guy, and (former offensive line coach Joe) Bugel's recruiting him. And sometimes it turns around as there are other people we want to draft, and we get that. But that’s how he went undrafted. He finished the season strong when people wrote him off early."