Lachey recalls glory years

When the Redskins traded for Jim Lachey in 1988, they solidified their offensive line once more. Lachey stuck around for seven years, providing a quality of play the Redskins couldn't match until they found Chris Samuels. Lachey earned a spot on the franchise's 70 Greatest Players list. Here he shares how he became that kind of player.

Q: How's it feel to be a living legend?

A: I don't look at it that way. It's a great honor, but it was even more special to come back and see some of the people I played with and some of the guys you watched and read about. I looked up to my elders. It's fun to come here with no pressure. Usually when I'd come to Redskin Park I'd be thinking about practice or this week's opponent. I came here [this time] with a big smile on my face. One of the first guys I visited was Bubba [Tyer].

Q: Looking back, why do you think you succeeded?

A: One of the reasons I succeeded was that I obviously came into a good situation with great coaches--Joe Bugel and Jim Hanifan later on--and they knew how to use their offensive line. Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. A lot of the reasons why is because he could do a lot of different things to protect the quarterbacks. I learned a lot from those coaches. And I could pass protect and pull on the counter trey and knock over a few linebackers. They took advantage of my ability to do that. They let me go one on one with pass protection, which you don't get too much of at left tackle. And they ran 60 counter trey a ton with Russ Grimm kicking out and me pulling up. That highlighted what I could do: get out, move your feet and run and knock people in the open field.

Q: Do you still get that itch to play?

A: My body hurts too much to think aobut it. The mental part was fun. I was speaking to a group the other day about offensive lineman and telling them our job is to get paid to hit someone for 75-80 plays, dominate them, abuse them. Do whatever you need to do to get it done. That takes a toll on your body. You have to know that you can't do that forever. You have to like going out and beating up people and hitting them and cheap shotting them to get your job done. That's something you havet to get into. But once it's over, it's over.

Q: How do you feel physically?

A: I feel good. I have arthritis, but everyone who ever played a down of football much less in the NFL has that. My operation areas hurt more than other areas, but I can still run and jump and play with my five kids (ages 1-10).

Q: What do you look back on the most from your Redskins days?

A: Probably that two to three year run starting in 1989. In '90 getting close and then in '91 crowning it with the same group of guys. That was a great three years. We had a bunch of winners on the team. Everyone was close. Gibbs talked about a Redskins family and we used to laugh when a guy would get cut, 'Oh, yeah Redskins family.' But it really was. We really did care. There was a core group that cared about each other on and off the field and that helped us win championships. You can't do it any other way, but it's tough to do now with free agency. I knew Jeff Bostic would be at center, Russ, myself, Donnie Warren, Art Monk, Gary Clark. I knew where they would be. You just knew that so it was fun.

Q: What do you think of their tackles now?

A: They're great. They finally got some in there after some lean years. Chris does a great job and will continue to improve. Jon came in right away and stood out. He's a good technique player and is on the verge of making the Pro Bowl and once he's there he'll be there for a while. Getting in the playoffs helps you make the Pro Bowl.

Q: What do you lose when you're constantly shuffling your line?

A: Communication. One thing Bugel talked about, and I thought it was odd when I was first here, was that you have to form a marriage between your left guard and left tackle and right guard and right tackle. That comes from spending time. If he burps, you have to know what that means.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers, and Pro Football Weekly. Q: What are you doing now? A: I'm a color analyst for Ohio State on WBNS radio in Columbus.

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