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Throwback Thursday: First NFL Game A Unique Moment For Joe Jacoby


For today's Throwback Thursday moment presented by SUBWAY® restaurants, looks back at former Redskins tackle Joe Jacoby reflecting on his rookie season in Washington.

Joe Jacoby had a unique experience on Sept. 6, 1981. Not only was it his first professional game, but it was the first NFL game that he had ever attended.

The Redskins' rookie offensive tackle started that day in the season-opening game against the Cowboys at RFK Stadium.


"I look back on that and think I never went to see a professional football game," Jacoby said. "I look back on it and see all these people, all the fans. I was used to playing in front of small crowds in college, and now I'm in front of 55,000 screaming RFK Redskins fans. I was in awe. I was looking around the stadium. I remember walking out and going, `Wow, I'm playing in the National Football League.'"

Jacoby played his college ball at Louisville. He said the Cardinals' stadium was never filled to capacity and averaged 12,000 to 15,000 people in attendance. He topped that by far at RFK, which was small by NFL standards but was always filled to the max.

"Then, the year after my rookie season we go to the Super Bowl and play in front of more than 100,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena," he said. "So I go from 12 to 15 to more than 100,000 playing in some pretty prestigious places."

Jacoby was a long shot to even make the Redskins in 1981, no less start in the season-opener. Signed as a free agent out of Louisville, he was initially mistaken by Redskins first-year coach Joe Gibbs as a defensive lineman. But the 6-7, 300-pounder impressed in training camp in his customary spot on the offensive line and entered the Dallas game as the starting left tackle.

The Redskins started 0-5 that year, leading to questions about the quality of the team and the job status of Gibbs.

Jacoby said that shaky start did not help in easing his transition into the NFL. "But to me it was still the game," he said. "It was a transition playing on the field as far as all the surroundings. Once I was on the field playing, everything else was nonexistent."

Showing resilience, the Redskins won eight of their last 11 games in 1981 to finish 8-8, before romping through the league in strike-shortened 1982 and beating the Dolphins, 27-17, in Super Bowl XVII.

In the postseason that year, Jacoby and his beefy teammates along the offensive line earned the nickname "The Hogs." They opened huge holes for running back John Riggins, who rushed for a whopping 610 yards and four touchdowns during the four-game playoff format, one of the greatest postseason performances in NFL history.

Jacoby remembers one game during the playoff stretch, a 31-17 win over Dallas in the NFC championship, when the lower-level seats at RFK were moving up and down, as rabid Redskins fans expressed their distaste for the blue and silver.

"I don't know if that was frightening, but it was interesting to watch," said Jacoby, a four-time Pro Bowler in the 1980s who has been a finalist for Hall of Fame induction. "Now all of these stadiums are so huge. But to me, RFK is still the neatest place. We played a lot of big games back then. I have a lot of fond memories."

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