Three months ago, when Redskins were celebrating the selection of offensive tackle Mark May as their No. 1 draft choice, scout Charley Casserly was on the phone with another defensive tackle, this one a lightly regarded free agent named Joe Jacoby.
“Joe, the Redskins are an ideal situation for a young guy like you,” Casserly remembers telling Jacoby, a 6-foot-7, 299-pounder from Louisville. “There is opportunity for you to come in and have a shot at making a pro team even as a free agent. I’m not giving you a line, either.”
Jacoby agreed with Casserly and decided to sign with the Redskins instead of Dallas. Now, with May holding out and veteran Terry Hermeling apparently going to retire again instead of coming to camp, Jacoby suddenly finds himself the team’s No. 3 tackle.
Obviously, he didn’t remain a No. 3 tackle; instead, Jacoby turned into an anchor during the most successful run in franchise history, retiring with three Super Bowl rings. But, turns out one thing was missing: a degree from Louisville.
“That changes Friday night,” Rick Bozich wrote in the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Look for a 6-foot-7, 280-pound guy who’s 52 years old. He’ll be walking on stage at the KFC Yum! Center to accept his bachelor of science degree in workforce leadership at the University of Louisville commencement.”
Turns out Jacoby began working on his 30 remaining credits in 2010, and finished the work in time for a winter graduation this semester. He told Bozich that when he started coaching at Shenandoah, it felt wrong to lecture kids about academics without his degree.
“This is a different feeling of achievement because it’s an individual thing,” he told Bozich. “There was nobody on the offensive line helping me through this. There were plenty of people encouraging me, especially my wife and daughters. Even (former Redskins coach Joe) Gibbs. But in the end I still had to get the work done.”