A Pittsburgh native, Russ Grimm finally made the final cut for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Grimm was selected along with fellow Panthers star Rickey Jackson, first-ballot choices Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, John Randle, Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little.
Grimm, who was a four-time Hall finalist (2005-08) before this year, played at Pitt from 1978-80. And he was ecstatic to be selected this year.
"It's definitely a great day,'' Grimm said on the NFL Network. "Obviously, the position (offensive line), it's one of the few positions that to be successful up front it takes more than one person.
"And I was very fortunate to be surrounded by a bunch of guys for a bunch of years, and I played on some good football teams. So, I'm definitely excited, and it's a privilege to be part of this class. So, I'm just excited to be part of it.''
A four-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champ, Grimm was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Redskins. Grimm, Jeff Bostic, Mark May, George Starke and Joe Jacoby comprised "The Hogs'' offensive line. Grimm started 114 games and played in a total of 140 games for the Redskins.
"Russ was so versatile,'' former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "He could have played anywhere on the offensive line for us. He also was a tough guy and super smart. (And) the reason we could do all the pulling and trapping that we did mostly was due to Russ.''
With The Hogs leading the way, running back John Riggins plowed through opposing defenses virtually with ease.
"Playing on the offensive line, you have to realize that when you do your job the quarterback throws touchdown passes, and the running back scores touchdowns and makes a lot of yards,'' Grimm said. "And if you don't do your job, when you pick up that paper on Monday, obviously, it's going to be your fault. That was the mentality going in.
"But I was just fortunate to be drafted somewhere where there was a changing of the guard. It was Coach Gibbs' first year, and we had a lot of young guys who had to step up and play. There was a camraderie among the group, and they gave us a nickname when we went to that first Super Bowl in '82. And it was a challenge every week to go out and live up to that name.''
Jacoby played alongside Grimm more than any Redskins' lineman, and he probably got to know him the best over the years.
"It's a great moment,'' Jacoby said. "I sat here and cheered, yelled and screamed like I did two years ago when they put Art Monk in finally after all those years. I'm elated. He was my roommate for 11 years, and I guess they'll be some celebrating out in Canton this August.
"He had the toughness, as a guy from Pennsylvania. I think he had tremendous leadership qualities, including his uncanny ability to lead on the field. His intelligence and his ability to make things happen on the football field helped lead us to championships. We had a very good player and very good teammate, and he helped us come together on and off the field.''
Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann believed that Grimm was "one of the greatest offensive linemen that every played football.'' Former 'Skins offensive line coach Joe Bugel praised him as well.
"He was one of the most complete football players, and people, that I've ever coached,'' Grimm said. "He could play all the positions – center, guard and tackle. He was the leader by example. He wasn't a loudmouth. He just came to work every day. It's a well-deserved honor for a great, great football player and a great, great friend.''
Grimm is the first member of the Hogs to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Bostic was thrilled that his buddy set the pace.
"It's a great day for the Redskins organization,'' Bostic said. "It's a great day for all the members of the Hogs. We finally got one in. Possibly down the road, Joe Jacoby will get in too. Our team got another one in the Hall of Fame, and that's confirmation for the work we did in the '80s and early '90s.''
Grimm and Jackson are the fifth and sixth players from Pitt selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They join former Panthers teammate and quarterback Dan Marino. Other Panthers in the pro Hall are halfback Tony Dorsett, tight end Mike Ditka and linebacker Joe Schmidt.
Grimm, 50, was a quarterback and linebacker at Southmoreland High School and was converted to center at Pitt, where he became an All-American. He made the all-decade team of the 1980s as a guard. He retired after the 1991 season and immediately went into coaching.
Grimm joined the Steelers staff in 2000 as offensive line coach and given the additional title of assistant head coach in 2004. He has been the line coach and assistant head coach for the Arizona Cardinals since 2007.
The new class will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. at Fawcett Stadium.
Former Pitt OL Grimm Voted to Hall Of Fame
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