Mike Tyson’s Super Bowl ad for Alexandria-based plumbing company Michael and Son Services has grabbed all the local headlines, but Sunday’s broadcast also brought a return to commercials for another retired-athlete-turned-occasional-actor: former Washington offensive lineman Joe Jacoby.
Jacoby, who played his entire 13-year career in Washington, appeared in a commercial for Virginia heating and cooling company Cyprus Air, imploring various homeowners complaining about everything from their living room’s temperature issues to losing three fingers while chopping firewood to “buy a gas fireplace.” The ad—which was shot in one afternoon on January 22 just before the snowstorm hit—asserts that “Joe Jacoby knows gas fireplaces,” which sounds like a fallacy designed to attach a celebrity name to the product (Cyprus Air has also been pushing #JoeKnowsHow on social media). However, Jacoby says he’ll only do a commercial if he believes in what he’s helping to sell.
“I have no acting experience,” he says. “I just like what this product and what this company represents, and the family values.”
Jacoby has starred in a few local commercials over the years, most famously a 1983 spot for defunct Rockville television store Theater Vision that Washington City Paper once called “DC’s greatest local-TV spot.” The oft-mocked ad featured a yellow t-shirt and running shorts-clad Jacoby standing beside his identically-dressed teammate Mark May as they talked up Theater Vision’s big-screen deals. The story behind the shoot is as much of a disaster as the finished product; Jacoby says the commercial was filmed by a “16-year-old holding a camcorder.”
“Good or bad press, you still get your name out there,” he says. “Unfortunately this is on the other end because of the way it sounds and the way it looks as far as what we’re wearing, the script, the quality of the film, the quality of what the commercial was supposed to be. You learn those things as you go along.”
The Theater Vision ad gave Jacoby a crash-course in being able to sniff out a bad segment before he begins shooting it (“Make sure you pay attention to who’s doing the filming and their reputation,” he says), and his since led him to work with more reliable companies like McDonald’s. The 1984 commercial he acted in for the fast food corporation—which also starred his teammates and members of the Baltimore Orioles in a song and dance routine—is his favorite work to date. “It was upbeat,” Jacoby says. “McDonald’s is a highly reputable company, which means you had quality people filming it. And of course we got to show our ability to be great dancers.”
Jacoby has no formal acting endeavors aside from the occasional commercial, but he does hope to one day work with one of football’s most closely-tied brands—Papa John’s—if only they’d take a chance on someone who wasn’t a quarterback. “I would think you’d want bigger guys like offensive and defensive linemen eating your pizza,” he says.