When the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 25 semifinalists for induction into the class of 2014 last week, three-time Super Bowl champion Joe Jacoby saw his name on the list for the fourth time since 2004. Jacoby was a four-time Pro Bowler, a two-time AP All-Pro and a member of the 1980s all-decade team. He lived a colorful life off the field as well.
Last week, I caught up with the Hog over the phone to get his thoughts on his chances, ask what it was like to line up next to and across from Hall-of-Famers and grab his thoughts on how to block San Francisco’s All-Pro defensive lineman. The following interview has been edited and condensed.
What was your reaction to being named a semifinalist again?
“I’m elated just every year to be nominated.
“There are so many great football players that are eligible every year. To get to this point, it’s very humbling. Its’ a neat feeling to be in the final 25. I know there’s a long process still to go. But there’s still an opportunity to one day be in the Hall, to be part of that club.”
Have you been to Canton before? Have you talked to Russ Grimm about the experience at all?
“I’ve been up there twice. I went when Coach Gibbs got in and, yes, I was there when Russ was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I’ll tell you what. It’s a pretty overwhelming experience just sitting on the outside looking in and not knowing how, or what the whole process is behind it, what they do during the week or everything that goes on with it.
“If I never make it, l’ll know that I played with some great players.”
How much of a feat was it to block Lawrence Taylor?
“I feel it right now, physically and everything, playing against some of the guys that are in the Hall of Fame now. LT is one of them. It’s satisfying, gratifying, knowing that you got to play against someone they’re saying is one of the best at their position. I got to do that twice a year for roughly 12 or 13 years. I looked forward to those matches and those opportunities. I may have been successful sometimes, and I know he was probably pretty successful in those opportunities.
“Howie Long is another one to name. Harry Carson. It’s gratifying to know that at least I’m in the same breath right now. Hopefully that same breath will continue on the announcement on February 1. First you gotta make it to the fifteen.”
How would you attack San Francisco’s Justin Smith?
“I think they gotta rely on their fundamentals in their base offense, but also you have to throw some new wrinkles in trying to neutralize him and to disrupt what he’s planning on doing.
“There’s only so much you can do with that without getting away from your offense and what you’re about. I think it’s the guys up front and having to do their jobs. Somebody’s going to have to step up this week, and maybe more than one guy. He might not always be on one guy all the time.
“It’s more physical (than schematic). It’s keeping him honest. Making sure he’s not getting into the plays and disrupting and getting movement. Stalemating him so he’s not he’s clogging up the middle up like he’s done this season.”
Do you run away from him or go directly at him?
“We talked earlier about LT. We would just go at him and make him take us beat on him. Come at him instead of us chasing him down because of his athletic ability and his speed and his quickness to chase down plays from the backside. When we played him, we wanted to go at him, constantly put bodies on him and hit him from all angles.
“It was a chess match with the Giants when we played him. It’s the same way here. You’ve got to neutralize him however it may be. Double him sometimes just to wear him down, so when you get to the third and fourth quarter, he’s not what you saw earlier, he’s a little beat up. “
How much do you pay attention to the selection debate?
“To be honest, I’ve been watching a lot of NFL Network. They’re all raving about Walter Jones and the prototype left tackle. Where do you think they got the model from?
Tags: Harry Carson, Howie Long, joe jacoby, pro football hall of fame, russ grimm, Walter Jones
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