You can thank the Raiders for the Washington Redskins’ all-time #79, Jim Lachey.
Lachey had been a Pro Bowl tackle with the Chargers in 1987, but demanded to be traded. The Chargers reluctantly obliged, but got a decent package back from the Los Angeles Raiders in return for Lachey.
Lachey only played one game for the Raiders before he was traded again.
Al Davis decided to make a deal with Washington. Los Angeles and the Redskins had nearly made a deal about a year earlier, in which then-back-up quarterback Doug Williams would have gone to the Raiders. Joe Gibbs changed his mind at the last minute (much to Williams’ chagrin), and the rest is history.
The Raiders still wanted a quarterback. And, when Williams wound up beating out Jay Schroeder in ‘87, the Redskins suddenly had one available again.
They wanted Lachey in return. He was becoming the best left tackle in the NFL, so getting him would be a tall order. But the Raiders saw Schroeder, who had been a Pro Bowl quarterback in 1986, as a potential missing piece that could get them back to the Super Bowl. The two teams struck a deal that sent Lachey to DC and Schroeder to the west coast.
Schroder would go on to help LA to the AFC Championship game following the 1990 season, but there’s no doubt that the Redskins got the better of the trade.
Lachey began as the Redskins’ right tackle, since veteran star Joe Jacoby occupied the left side. That changed as Lachey continued to improve rapidly. He was All-Pro in 1989, 1990, and 1991, with the Redskins winning at least 10 games in all three seasons.
In ‘91, of course, he was a big part of one of the most dominant teams the NFL has ever seen. The Redskins rolled to a Super Bowl victory after leading the league in scoring, thanks in part to the outstanding play of the powerful, quick-footed Lachey.
Injuries began to plague Lachey during the latter part of his career. He missed six games in 1992, then missed the entire 1993 season. Following a 1995 campaign in which he managed only to play three games, Lachey retired.
While Lachey’s time with Washington was relatively brief, there’s no question of his tremendous impact on the Redskins’ fortunes. As you probably guessed, he was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins during the team’s 70th anniversary celebration. Whether from an individual perspective or that of team success, Lachey separates himself from the back at #79 in Redskins history.
There is one other #79 who deserves serious consideration: Ron McDole, a mainstay of George Allen’s Over the Hill Gang. McDole missed only one game in eight seasons with Washington after joining the team in 1971.
Although McDole, a defensive end, was an accomplished player, I give Lachey the edge because McDole’s best seasons probably happened before he was with Washington: He made two Pro Bowls and earned an All-Pro selection, but McDole was playing for the Bills during that stretch.
On the other hand, before succumbing to injury problems, Lachey had a stretch of years during which he was arguably the best offensive lineman in the NFL.
With all due respect to the “Dancing Bear,” I think Lachey gets the well-earned title of the greatest Redskin to wear #79.
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