His size stands out even now; Joe Jacoby was a big man in the 1980s and he remains a big man in the 2000s. He's 6-foot-7, right around 300 pounds and clearly looks like a guy who has moved a few obstacles out of his way.
Jacoby, though, was always more than about size. To only see his frame is to overlook how he accomplished what he did. It began with a work ethic and quick feet that, mixed with his size, helped him become one of the NFL's top linemen in the 1980s.
"It was everything," said former Washington Redskins tight end Don Warren, now a scout with Carolina. "He's very smart. His work ethic is impeccable -- he worked his butt off to get stronger and to get better as far as learning in the film room."
Jacoby was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame but said via text message on Saturday he did not make the 2016 class.
Jacoby's character is what always stood out to ex-Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. He said he wanted players to be great athletes and also mentally and physically tough. All of that describes Jacoby. It's why he rose from undrafted free agent -- in an era of 12-round drafts -- to starting left tackle as a rookie and future two-time All-Pro battling the likes of Lawrence Taylor twice a year.
The oft-told story is about how when Gibbs first met Jacoby, he thought he was a defensive lineman. That same camp, rookie lineman Mark May missed the first 10 days of camp because he hadn't yet signed his contract. Also, Jacoby's mom died, testing that mental fortitude.
But Jacoby kept plugging and impressing, especially with his footwork.
"I still remember the first scrimmage we had and that was the point everybody made," Gibbs said. "Look at his feet, look how quick he is. When you play left tackle all those years in the NFC East -- he faced the biggest and best and toughest bunch of guys for the period they played."
When he was 9 years old, Jacoby earned a dollar an hour cleaning out trash and debris from and around homes being built on his street. In high school, he worked two jobs -- in the cafeteria during lunch and at a department store after school. In his last five years in the NFL, Jacoby worked at a car dealership in the offseason.
"It continues to this day," said Jacoby, an offensive line coach at Concordia University in Chicago, of his work ethic. "Hopefully I instilled some of that into my two girls. If you want things, you've got to work for it."
Jacoby made that commitment and became a player once voted to the all-decade team in the 1980s and starting for four Super Bowl teams, including three champions. Warren recalled how precise Jacoby was when he needed to pull, a key part of what the Redskins did running the ball, and how little help he needed. Before Warren would go out for a pass, he was often instructed to chip the pass rusher.
"There were guys I played with who were always saying, 'Hey, give me some help,' " Warren said. "Jake was totally the opposite. He would rather I not touch him at all and knock the rusher off his path. That's pretty amazing for a tackle."
Jacoby was a competitive player, the sort of guy Warren said you "don't want to piss off." But it was just part of Jacoby's package and, in the end, it enabled him to overcome being a longshot to even make a roster.
"I got my chance," Jacoby said, "and then I used those things that were instilled in me growing up and working hard and doing what I was told and I took advantage of it."