The Redskins announced before Thursday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals that the team would honor former left tackle Chris Samuels and linebacker London Fletcher by inducting them into the team’s Ring of Fame at FedEx Field this season.
That news — or at least the absence of another name — didn’t sit well with legendary Redskins offensive tackle Joe Jacoby, who went to bat for former teammate and fellow “Hog” Donnie Warren via Twitter.
Jacoby’s tweets created a debate among Redskins fans, not about Samuels’s or Fletcher’s worthiness, but about those from the franchise’s glory years who have yet to be inducted. That mirrors Jacoby’s own fight to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It just hit a nerve,” Jacoby said in a phone interview with The Washington Post on Friday. “I feel for Donnie. It bothers Donnie because of this. He sees his buddies that played on the same team. He was a big factor in how well we’d done.”
“Donnie was a valuable member of our team on the offense, a part of ‘The Hogs’ and what we accomplished,” Jacoby said. “It really bothers me. I think what bothers me the most, there’s six of us who played in all four of the Super Bowls [during Joe Gibbs’ tenure as head coach]. He’s the only one out of the six that’s not in the Ring of Fame.”
Warren never made the Pro Bowl and put up modest receiving numbers as a tight end, never exceeding 31 catches or 335 yards in a season. During a 193-game career, he caught just seven touchdown passes.
Still, he was a member of some of the franchise’s best teams.
Warren, Jacoby, offensive linemen Russ Grimm and Jeff Bostic, wide receiver Art Monk and linebacker Monte Coleman are the six members of all four Redskins Super Bowl teams from 1982 to 1991. Monk did not play in Super Bowl XVII due to injury. Warren, Jacoby and Bostic are the only three Redskins to start all four of those Super Bowls.
Warren “was a key component in our game planning week to week in how he was gonna be used,” Jacoby said. “Was he going to be on the line of scrimmage? Was he going to be off? Was he going to be in the split backfield motion or was he going to line up in the 'I’? He was very versatile as far as handling different assignments and all that. He wasn’t your standard tight end that just lined up next to the tackle. He did motion. He played out in the slot. He was a very valuable as far as our success on the ground. And then the passing game, yeah, he may not have had the catches, but the catches he made were huge in the games we needed them.”
Players such as offensive tackle Jim Lachey, a three-time first-team Associated Press all-pro; wide receiver Ricky Sanders, who set Super Bowl records during his tenure; Hall of Fame tackle Turk Edwards; and three-time Pro Bowl kick returner Mike Nelms are some of the notable exclusions.
There’s no formal process to selecting inductees to the Redskins Ring of Fame. Team owner Daniel Snyder is the only person who decides a member’s induction, a practice not uncommon around the NFL.
“London Fletcher and Chris Samuels are two of the greatest Redskins during my tenure as owner of this franchise,” Snyder said in a statement in Thursday’s announcement. “Their consistent level of play, leadership in the locker room and dedication to excellence during their time as Redskins were everything you could ask for from a player. I am honored to make two tremendous additions to our storied Ring of Fame.”
Samuels was selected third overall in the 2000 NFL draft and played 10 seasons for Washington. He started and played in 141 games and was selected to six Pro Bowls in that time.
“When Mr. Snyder called me and told me that I was getting inducted into the Ring of Fame, I was excited because there were so many great Redskins before me — guys like Darrell Green, John Riggins and all of those guys,” Samuels said in a statement.
In his seven seasons with the Redskins, beginning in 2007, Fletcher turned into one of the franchise’s best free agency signings, though Washington never won a playoff game during his tenure. He started all 112 regular season games he played as a Redskin, posting 956 tackles, 12 interceptions and 11.5 sacks.
“It is something that I don’t take for granted,” Fletcher said in a statement about his induction. “… I’m humbled by it and I’m still smiling from ear to ear about getting that call and knowing that I’ll be going into the Ring of Fame.”
The team will announce at a later date when Samuels and Fletcher will be officially be inducted.
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