GLORY DAYS: The Hogs

The Redskins' season isn't over. It just feels that way. But don't despair. Instead, take a look back on the good ol' days, when the Redskins ruled the NFL. This is part of a new weekly feature recalling the great moments and players in Redskins history. This story on the Hogs is an excerpt from Hail to RFK! 36 Seasons of Redskins Memories.

When Joe Bugel coached the Phoenix Cardinals, fans spotted him in airports and recognized him as a football coach. It didn't matter which airport he was in, either. People would run up to him and say the same thing.

''Hey,'' they'd shout. ''There's the Hogs coach!''

''They didn't even know my name,'' Bugel said. ''But they knew me as the Hogs coach. That's what people recognized first. I loved that. Every place I've been people ask about the Hogs. Even now with the Raiders.''

Imagine how many offensive line coaches ever turn heads in airports. But no NFL offensive line had gained more fame or attracted more of a following than the Hogs in Washington. Defensive lines had earned nicknames before -- the Rams' Fearsome Foursome, Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain and Minnesota's Purple People Eaters. But an offensive line with a flashy moniker? Please.

The Hogs were a bunch of beefy, no-nonsense players who liked to drink beer, smash a few heads on Sunday and open holes large enough for a diesel. Particularly one named John Riggins. Five gained the most attention and formed the core of the Hogs: left tackle Joe Jacoby, left guard Russ Grimm, center Jeff Bostic, right guard Mark May and right tackle George Starke. At an average size of 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, they were the NFL's biggest line in the early 1980s.

Tight ends Doc Walker and Donnie Warren joined in the spotlight as their main roles were blocking. They were big. They liked crashing into defenders. Hence, they were Hogs, too. Riggins, who often watched films with this group, later became an honorary member.

It started innocently in 1982. Bugel gathered his interior linemen before one hot and muggy day during training camp in Carlisle, Pa., and, wanting them to run to the blocking sleds, said, ''OK, you Hogs, let's get running down here.''

Bugel had been looking for something to bond this group.

The Hogs fit.

''It was just something to get through training camp,'' Starke said. ''It wasn't intended to be anything.''

Bugel said, ''We were a big chunky group at the time. Especially Russ Grimm. It just caught on. Holy smokes, it just mushroomed. The next thing you know, we bought T-shirts with a big Razorback hog on it. Fortunately for that group, the team accepted it. Joe Gibbs made the statement in front of the team that once you establish a nickname, you'd better back it up.''

They did. Individually, they were good. Collectively, they were dominant. Of the Redskins top five rushing seasons, three came between 1983-85 -- the height of the Hogs. That stretch included a then-playoff record of 185 yards rushing against Minnesota in 1982. There were four straight 100-yard rushing games in the playoffs that season.

''Everyone knew they didn't want to be behind in the second half,'' Starke said. ''Because then the infantry was coming out. You knew you had to stop the Hogs in the second half.''

Eventually, the Hogs spawned new generations of piglets as players such as Jim Lachey and Raleigh McKenzie were adopted into the group. But it's the success of the originals, as well as the team, that made the name stick.

Because of them, there was a Hog poster (which included the five linemen, the two tight ends and guard Fred Dean, a Redskin from 1978-82, decked in tuxedos and tennis shoes), Hog T-shirts, Head Hog beer, a restaurant and Super Hogs Inc. They even made it into local newspaper personality columns.

''After we beat the Dolphins in [Super Bowl XVII], I remember driving through Los Angeles and there were bedsheets out the window of apartments that said, 'Go Hogs,' '' said Starke. ''They were even caught up in this Hog thing. I remember thinking this thing is so strange. We got back to Washington and it had gone bananas.''

May said, ''Now we're in the limelight and we're as large as any running back or QB. Before you'd walk into the grocery store and no one notices you. Now they know your name. Anywhere you went nationally, you were introduced as a Hog.''

It's not as if this were an all-star cast when it was first assembled.

Starke (1973-84) was the veteran of the group, having been drafted in 1971. He was traded to Kansas City, waived, then re-signed with Washington and spent the 1972 season on the taxi squad. Within two years, the Columbia product was starting.

Next came center Jeff Bostic (1980-93), cut by Philadelphia and signed as a free agent. As a long snapper. By the next season, Bostic, who played collegiately at Clemson, was starting. That's when he and Starke were joined by left tackle Mark May (1981-89) and right guard Russ Grimm (1981-91), first and third round picks, respectively, from Pitt that season.

All that remained was for the biggest one to join them -- the 6-foot-7, 300-pound Jacoby (1982-1993). When he first walked into Joe Gibbs' office as a rookie free agent from Louisville in 1982, the future Hall of Fame coach sized up Jacoby and figured he was a defensive tackle.

''I was scared and frightened because I didn't know what to expect,'' Jacoby remembers about that first meeting. ''So I didn't want to correct him.''

Yet Jacoby, whose mother died during his rookie-year training camp, started every game that strike-shortened season.

''Not bad for a defensive lineman,'' he said.

Warren and Walker were the bookends in this attack and the core was formed. In 1982-83, the five interior lineman missed a combined one game.

What Bugel liked about the mix was that the players could grow together. May, Bostic, Grimm and Jacoby were young bachelors who hung out frequently. Jacoby and Grimm lived together for two years -- in a pizza-box filled apartment that usually had a pot of spaghetti on the stove. ''Neither one of us were culinary delights,'' Jacoby said.

The group used to park themselves in an old red shed at Redskin Park in Herndon and guzzle a few beers after practice. Other teammates would often join them. What was discussed there, remained there. The 5 o'clock club, started during the Vince Lombardi season in 1969, became a tradition the Hogs proudly continued -- ''We didn't really fight it that much,'' Jacoby joked.

Another tradition was wearing their Hog T-shirts (a hog with Redskins on its butt and Hog above it) on Thursdays. Or else be fined $5.

This closeness led to the key ingredient of great communication on the field, especially on line calls, when they resorted to personal knowledge.

''We used our wives names, then after a while we used our kids names,'' Grimm said. ''When our kids got older, that was time for us to retire.

''You felt bad if you missed a block. Not because you didn't make yards as a team, but because you let the guys down beside you. They were counting on you to do your job.''

It was up to Bugel, the team's line coach from 1981-89, to mold this group. With such young players, he wanted to make sure their egos remained deflated. So he tore into them and they developed a love-hate relationship.

But the players mostly loved him -- Bostic called him the ''finest teaching coach he had ever had.'' When Bugel left for the Cardinals in 1989, the remaining four Hogs presented him with a bracelet, which Bugel said he'll be buried with.

''His saying was, 'It's my way or Trailway and there's a bus leaving every half hour,' '' May recalled. ''He meant that. He wanted us not only to be big and good athletes, he wanted us to be smart and think on the run.

''If we had good games, we had a tendency to celebrate a lot. Russ celebrated more than most. If we played bad, Joe would take us out and run the crap out of us on Monday. Sometimes, we played a heck of a game, and would come in watch the film and want to get out of there. He would sense that guys were getting cocky. He would surprise you and take you out and run the crap out of you. There were a lot of days Russ didn't make it. It was a discipline act, but he knew that he had to do that to keep us in line.''

Bugel said, ''I was brutal to them. They even plotted to kill me. I tried to break their spirits when they were young but couldn't do it. [But] the tougher I got on them, the better they played and the more respect they showed.''

Two plays made the Hogs famous. Or vice versa. The gut and the counter trey. The first was straight-ahead smash-mouth football. The second required pulling action but still resulted in flattened bodies. Sometimes, they'd run the same play nine, 10 times in a row and would tell their opponent -- such as Dallas' Randy White in the 1983 NFC Championship game -- what was coming. The defenses wilted.

''It was like bludgeoning people with a dull instrument,'' Bostic said.

They got good at that. And famous. Perhaps Grimm or Jacoby has a shot at the Hall of Fame. Who knows? If none do, that's just as well. After all, this was a group effort.

''If someone said back in 1982 or 83, did you see Grimm or Bostic play, they'd say, 'Who?' '' Bostic said. ''But, if they're a real football fan and you said, 'Did you see the Hogs?' They'd say, 'Oh, yeah.' ''


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