Washington Redskins great Joe Jacoby was passed over yet again Friday for a chance to take his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and even when it was right, it was wrong.
This was Jacoby’s first shot as a “senior finalist” for Canton, after being passed over during by football writers for 20 years.
The special nine-member selection committee that is essentially there to make up for egregious oversights like the exclusion of Jacoby picked Johnny Robinson — the great Kansas City Chiefs safety — as the lone senior representative to be on the ballot.
Robinson still must get 80 percent support from all voters next February, but generally, the senior candidates get those votes. It’s as if the writers, embarrassed by not getting it right for 20 years, finally jump at the chance to do the right thing.
Last year, both of the senior committee’s nominees, former Green Bay Packers great Jerry Kramer and Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazille, got in.
Jerry Kramer was part of one of the most celebrated teams in football history, those Green Bay Packers teams of the 1960s who won five NFL championships. He wrote a book, for God’s sake, a best-seller called “Instant Replay,” a diary of the Packers 1967 season. And it took him 45 years to be elected.
This year, Robinson will be the only senior nominee, and, with all due respect to Jacoby, Robinson — a six-time finalist who has been waiting more than 40 years — is long overdue.
It’s a messed up process when someone like Robinson has to wait this long.
If you saw him play, you had no doubt he was a Hall of Famer, a leader on those great Chiefs teams that went to two Super Bowls and defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in Super Bowl IV. He had an interception and a fumble recovery in that game while playing with three broken ribs.
He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a six-time American Football League All-Pro. He had 57 interceptions over his 12-year career from 1960 to 1971. That it may take until 2019 for him to be in Canton is absurd — a far greater absurdity than the pathetic outrage over Terrell Owens taking three years to be elected.
Joe Jacoby not being in Canton is absurd as well.
I get that Hall of Fame voting is often a complicated, emotional process. I vote for the baseball Hall of Fame, and have seen stunning oversight during my time casting a ballot, like the omission of Dale Murphy, among others. But the process — a paper ballot distributed by mail to each voter to make his or her own decision (with those decisions now, for the most part, public) — just seems like a cleaner, more legitimate method than what happens with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where a group of voters gather in a closed-door meeting and have them make presentations to those in attendance for candidates.
Jacoby, with three Super Bowl rings, only made it to the final ballot three times. How do voters leave that room when one of the anchors of the most celebrated offensive line in NFL history, one of the tackles named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1980s only comes up for a final vote three times over 20 years — and then is passed over each time?
Then again, how did it take Johnny Robinson this long to get this close?
There are other Redskins who have been waiting a long time as well in the seniors’ pipeline — running back and former NFL Most Valuable Player Larry Brown, for instance. This was the way that Chris Hanburger made his way to Canton in 2011, nearly 30 years after he became eligible.
And there are other worthy senior candidates who were passed over — another tackle, former Bears great Jimbo Covert, who was also a tackle on that All-Decade NFL team of the 1980s.
Will Jacoby have to wait as long as Hanburger? Or Robinson?
Let’s hope not. Let’s hope that next year the senior committee voters realize the next wrong they need to right is the Hall of Fame’s inexplicable omission of Joe Jacoby.
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