Tough to Root Out a Hog; Redskins’ Beefy Boars Prove a Long-Lived Species

Archive: The Hogs Articles

The Washington Post
Friday, Final Edition

“Most amazing about all this is that it doesn’t seem like that much time has passed. . . . I can remember the first game we played under Joe Gibbs; the first Super Bowl we went to; the last Super Bowl; and last week’s game. And none of them seem that far apart.” Jeff Bostic

Other than Marion Barry and incumbents in Congress, few people of prominence survive 10 years in Washington; not even the president. The Hogs have, or at least the heaviest of the original powerful porkers: Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Mark May and Jeff Bostic.

They have been to three Super Bowls and won two — and the chance for yet another trip starts Saturday in Philadelphia. They have outlasted such fads as The Boz and such institutions as NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. If their luck carries into next fall, they will outlast the pro football home into which they were sort of born and raised, Redskin Park.

For the most part, “Hogs” has proved a snug fit for this foursome. Having arrived the same year, 1981, Jacoby, Grimm and May could be called a litter. Bostic came a year earlier, as a free agent, after being cut by the Eagles, but spent most of that first season as a snapper.

The opening-day lineup in 1982, according to Bostic, featured himself at center, Grimm at left guard and May at left tackle. For the Super Bowl, Jacoby was at left tackle and May was a reserve. For the Super Bowl a year later, the left-to-right blockers were Jacoby, Grimm, Bostic, May and George Starke.

With John Riggins, the Redskins late in 1982 and through nearly all of 1983 ran hog-wild through opponents. Although it’s always dangerous to be declarative in a copycat business such as football, the Redskins invented a play — counter trey — in which Grimm and Jacoby pulled to their right and frequently trampled smaller linebackers and defensive backs.

“One of those situations,” May said of the their early good fortune, “when everything in the universe came together.”

“It’s been like a flash of a decade,” Bostic admitted.

“Is this the end of the line for me?” said Jacoby.

The conversation had drifted into memories, which for a football player in his early 30s always carries more than a hint of vulnerability. Jacoby’s smile stayed wide and warm because what got him and the others, during separate interviews, to reminiscing was not an ending, but a celebration of survival.

“People say I might have been a perfect player for the ’50s,” said Grimm. “Lunch pails to practice and beers in the afternoon. I wouldn’t want to have played in the ’50s. Those guys had to have second jobs. Everybody wants to know what I’ll be doing [after the NFL]. I don’t know. I haven’t planned anything for 31 years and it got me this far. Why screw it up?”

If Washington had not been so daffy over its Redskins and if these Redskins had not been so dazzling, nothing much would have evolved from offensive line coach Joe Bugel casually saying before a 1982 training-camp drill: “Okay, you hogs . . . ”

And while Fun Bunch, Diesel, Smurfs and Pearl Harbor Crew have come and gone, the Hogs remain.

“My house,” said Bostic, “looks like a hog memorial. Ceramic pigs. Crocheted pigs. A pig made out of a coconut shell and another, which I favor most, of a pig riding a dolphin [the reference being to the Redskins’ victory over Miami in Super Bowl XVII]. I’ve got every imaginable pig known to man.”

Except a live one.

“And I’m working on that,” he said. Yes, farm boy Bostic does know that a mature hog is called a boar. And he and his buddies are boars, but never boring.

Usually, offensive linemen are the most anonymous of football players. Rarely do blockers even merit a collective nickname, let alone one that requires mention in any thorough examination of pro football in the 1980s. Hat Sizes Haven’t Grown

(For the record, Donnie Warren, a tight end, was not immediately a Hog. Riggins still later became one the way everybody else did: Bugel said so and simply tossed him a Hog tee-shirt.)

Each of the four original Hogs has made the Pro Bowl at least once. Each retains a nice touch of modesty. For his interview, Grimm chose a table next to the laundry dryer. Jacoby (on a warmer day) plopped onto a bench several yards from a practice field. Bostic sat in equipment manager Jay Brunetti’s chair in the equipment room.

“Come into my office,” said May, gesturing to sit on the bench in front of the locker he occupies, across from Grimm’s, at the head of a clubhouse area known as Pig Alley. Predating the Hogs by several years, Pig Alley was coined for the characters whose lockers occupied narrow space perhaps as long as a holding penalty: 10 yards.

“Pete Cronan. . . . Starke. . . . Karl Lorch,” said May, smiling as the names of not-so-long-ago teammates popped into his mind. Naturally, Riggins was a resident of Pig Alley. Such a force was Riggins off the field that he frequently commanded not one locker along Pig Alley but two, next door to May.

May also remembered an enormous defensive end from his rookie year and said: “Wilbur Young used to steal my lunch all the time. He’d eat anything that wasn’t nailed down. One time somebody took a doughnut, dipped it in wax and put it on a bench. Twenty minutes later, it was gone.”

Grimm has had just two next-door locker neighbors in 10 years. Linebacker Rich Milot was there when Grimm arrived. A young Hog, Jim Lachey, assumed residency when he became a Redskin in early September of 1988 and Milot was released.

“In 10 years,” said May, “I’ve probably had 25 guys [in the locker next to his]. It’s been the transient locker, the one used for guys here a week or two. Sometimes during minicamp, two guys would share it. Riggo used to get irritated when they’d take away his second locker.”

As Grimm put it: “Name tag in, name tag out.”

“The older you get,” said May, “the more callous you get. You have to. You see a lot of men, who have become friends, here one day and the next day they’re not. You know, over the course of time, your time’s coming.”

How far the Boars have come can be seen by what stares out at them each work day. Taped to the back of Bostic’s locker are finger paintings by daughters Ashley and Amanda. Two playful poses of Lauren Nicole remind Jacoby that there is more to life now than football, but that drive blocks do help make a good life possible. Up in World in Salary

Bostic was the first to marry, shortly before training camp in the summer of 1981. Grimm and Jacoby were roommates until Grimm got married, after Super Bowl XVII. Jacoby’s marriage came after Grimm’s; May’s followed Jacoby’s. Stats and facts: the Boars have nine children (Grimm four, Bostic and Jacoby two each and May one) and eight serious operations. Their average salary approximates the amount of money Jack Kent Cooke in 1960 paid for 25 percent of the Redskins: $ 400,000. None has a college degree.

“Some rookies make more in signing bonuses than I’ve been able to accumulate over 10 years,” Grimm said. “Joe made more money off that first Super Bowl than he did during the season. So did I. That was the strike year, so we only got paid for half a season — and $ 70,000 for winning the Super Bowl.

“My [salary] breakthrough was the USFL. I went from something like $ 50,000, $ 65,000, $ 80,000 the first three years to $ 205,000. But this goes way beyond money. I see myself as a 31-year-old teen-ager. My wife gives me hell sometimes because I forgot to pick up my paycheck.”

Football is such a violent and eroding life that players keep forgetting injuries that would keep other workers talking about them for years. Broken noses. Pinched nerves. Cracked ribs. Jacoby counted surgery on both ankles as one operation because he had them done at the same time. The arthroscopic procedure is not considered he-man surgery.

“One major and four ‘scopes,” Grimm said of his medical history. “They haven’t taken me in a big chunk yet, but they’re whittling away pretty good.”

May, who almost certainly will miss the playoffs with a seriously injured knee now mostly mended: “Two operations, but each operation had three different operations.”

May arrived with the most fanfare, he being the first-round draft choice when Gibbs was a rookie coach. Grimm also was highly regarded, the Redskins giving up a first-round draft choice in 1982 to select him two rounds after Pitt teammate May in 1981.

Jacoby and Bostic were free agents. In their initial one-on-one meeting, Gibbs thought Jacoby was a defensive lineman and Jacoby was too shy to correct him. He has been told Gibbs later scolded Bugel for bringing him to camp, so top-heavy were the Redskins with offensive linemen at the time.

“There’s the man who discovered me,” said Bostic, pointing to General Manager Charley Casserley, who had entered Brunetti’s space a moment earlier.

“You were a center at Clemson as a junior and a guard as a senior,” Casserley said, his memory flawless after nearly 13 years.

“Exactly,” Bostic said.

Casserley’s final words on the matter: “Better at center.”

“Football is a game of highs and lows,” said May. “My great high was being the first-round pick of the Washington Redskins. But I was benched that year. I fought back, got a new position [right guard, from left tackle] and later made it to the Pro Bowl. The following year, I blew my knee out.

“I’d gotten married, had a child, gone to the Pro Bowl. Exactly what I’d wanted. With the knee, everything snapped. I realized it could be taken away.

“Lots of bad thoughts go through your mind when you’re sitting in a hospital and they say you can go home tomorrow. Then, all of a sudden, you carry a fever of 104-105 for five days. There’s an infection in your leg, complications after surgery. And a full year of rehab ahead. Lots of things on your mind.”

In addition to being superior players, the Boars are so highly regarded among Washingtonians because of their sense of community. All are involved, to varying degrees, with charity.

Jacoby runs a golf tournament for the American Heart Association. He has lost his mother, his father and his younger brother, 14 at the time, to heart disease. Because the Hospice of Greensboro (N.C.) meant so much to Bostic’s mother, before her death in 1987, that is the charity of choice for the golf tournament hosted by him and his brother, Joe, a former offensive lineman with the Cardinals.

Nationally, Grimm and Jacoby have become the most famous. Grimm was selected as a guard on the NFL’s team of the 1980s. Jacoby also has appeared in four Pro Bowls.

Hats and tee-shirts are a motivational tool within the Redskins. One of the shirts rewards a “KO block” and is given only when a lineman flattens an opponent and also causes his head to snap back on the ground.

“The most I ever got in one year,” said Jacoby, “was 11.”

Early memories linger longest, especially the play (called “70 chip”) that sprung Riggins 43 yards for the go-ahead points against Miami in Super Bowl XVII.

“I had what we call a ‘Lenny block’ on with Russ inside,” said Bostic. “I remember looking up. All I could see was the back of John’s jersey. . . . I knew at that point the game was over. With four minutes left, I knew it was over.”

The enduring Redskin for most Hogs will be the assistant who named them, who molded them and who this season has had success as the first-year head coach of the Cardinals — Bugel. ‘My Way or Trailways’

Mimicking the volatile Bugel during a postgame critique, just before an explosion might send film cannisters flying his way, May said: ” ‘You didn’t get the step on this play. I told you on this play you’re supposed to step with the left foot first. I told you a thousand times, ten thousand times the correct step and I’m not gonna put up with this any longer. It’s either my way or Trailways.’ ”

In his own voice, May added: “It would put you in an edgy mood for practice. It was great for us then, because we were all young, wet behind the ears and needed that.”


“We used to be scared blocking for him,” Grimm said. “He’d run right over you [if no hole had opened]. When he put his feet down, he didn’t look to see what color pants they were stepping on.”

The next great gathering will be in Canton, Ohio, when Riggins is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “The Hogs will be there,” said Jacoby. “We’ll probably pull up in a pickup truck.”

VCRs make lying more difficult in football. A player strutting a bit too much faces the possibility of someone saying: “Hey, I’ve got a tape of that. Let’s check it.” There is no arguing, however, that Jacoby in 1984 became the only offensive lineman in Redskins history to score a touchdown, falling on a Keith Griffin fumble in the end zone.

“I do have a game ball from that,” he said. “But I had to buy it myself.”

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Ken Denlinger

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