The Hogs finally have a representative in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Russ Grimm will be inducted with the 2010 class, and with it, a great wrong will have been righted. It seems impossible that almost twenty years after dominating the NFL, the venerable offensive line known as the Hogs didn’t have a single member with a bust in Canton, Ohio. Now they will.
Grimm must have thought that the day would never come, after being a finalist each of the last six years, and a candidate for fourteen; but the rough-and-tough lineman was on all three Super Bowl winning Redskin teams, and joins fellow teammates John Riggins, Art Monk, Darrel Green and Coach Gibbs as the only members in the Hall from that decade of dominance.
The announcement was made live on NFL Network from the site of Super Bowl XLIV, and Russ shares some pretty elite company in the 2010 Hall of Fame class: San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, Minnesota Vikings defensive end John Randle, Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little, New Orleans Saints defensive end Rickey Jackson, and Detroit Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau as part of the 2010 Hall of Fame class.
While he played a little at center, Grimm played either the left or right guard spot for the Redskins from 1981-1991. The man who coached him up, Joe Bugel, said that Grimm could play anywhere, “He was one of the most complete football players, and people, that I’ve ever coached. 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.”
As a matter of fact, according to the original ‘Head Hog’ George Starke, and who would know better, Grimm is actually the inspiration behind the name Hogs. Following the announcement that Grimm was being inducted, Starke stated, “Obviously, everyone knows that Russ is a Hog, but not everyone knows that the name Hogs came from a description of him. He was lying on the ground at the end of a blocking drill and Joe Bugel walked by and Russ had his stomach peeking out of his shirt. Buges said, ‘Man, Russ get up you look like a Hog laying on the ground.’ ” Starke went on to explain that, “After that, the rest of us decided to poke fun at Buges and wear white shirts to practice and we all had Hogs written on them. Buges said to us, ‘Why are you doing that?’ We said, Because we are in solidarity with Russ and if you call him a Hog, you have to call us all Hogs.’ That is where the name came from.” Starke also offered his opinion that, “… Russ is the greatest guard to ever play pro football. He and Randy White had so many battles and Russ won most of those battles and Randy is in the Hall of Fame. I think it is only fitting that Russ make it in.”
Perhaps one of the best ‘Hogs anecdotes’ involves Grimm, center Jeff Bostic and domination of the aforementioned White of the Dallas Cowboys. There was a particular game where the Redskins were playing their usual brand of smashmouth football, and ran the 50-gut play on NINE straight occasions. Bostic described it thusly: “After three or four, in the huddle I said to Russ, ‘Play along with me,’ ” Bostic said. “I got to the line, and I said to Randy White, ‘Our coaching staff loves you. We’re going to run it over you again.’ Then on the next play Russ told him. Randy wasn’t very happy, but after three or four times, he didn’t say a word.”
Think about it – running the same gut play nine times in a row? When do you ever see the kind of interior line domination that allows you to pound the ball up the middle on nine straight plays? You don’t. The Hogs were special – all of them – and Grimm was an integral part of that group.
While the whole group of Hogs were lunch-box type guys – Grimm might have been the most, er, unrefined. Described as a “blue collar stiff and proud of it,” by Mark May in his book “Tales from the Washington Redskins,” May recalled a story about a Christmas party at his house back in 1982: “I iced down a keg of beer and stationed it on the landing between the first floor and basement. Russ turned the landing into his headquarters for the evening. He grabbed a chair and a Hog shot glass (a 60-ounce pitcher) and parked his butt on the landing next to the keg. Except for an occasional trip to the bathroom, we didn’t see Russ on the first level all night…”
Redskin fans saw Russ on the ‘first level’ every time he stepped on to the field. Paired with left tackle Joe Jacoby, they forged a reputation as the most punishing side of an offensive line in football – perhaps the most dominant side of all time. By 1983, the two were firmly entrenched as unheralded superstars, but had started earning league accolades. Grimm would run off four consecutive seasons of being named an All-Pro, as well as four straight Pro Bowl selections. Jacoby was right there beside him all four times. Not only were the two of them working together on the field, but they were roommates for eleven years as well.
“It’s a great moment. 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,” said Jacoby of Grimm’s induction. “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.”
It was in Pennsylvania, at Southmoreland High School, where Grimm first began to show his football prowess. He played quarterback, linebacker, and punted, as well as earning nine varsity letters, and being a basketball star. From high school, he moved on to the University of Pittsburgh where he was a standout center, and also served as the reserve punter.
When he was drafted by Washington in the third round (69th overall) of the 1981 draft, the Redskins undoubtedly expected him to be their center eventually; but the native of Scottdale, Pennsylvania won the starting left guard spot in his rookie training camp. Grimm would stay there for the next six seasons.
In 1987, he was moved back to the position that he was drafted to play – center. After starting the first five games, he tore a ligament in his left knee that kept him out of the lineup until the season’s last game. In 1988, he would miss eleven more games after suffering cartilage damage in that same left knee.
A testament to the true warrior spirit that he possesses, Russ returned to play at left guard in 1989, 1990, and 1991, before calling it a career. Injuries had taken their toll, but at no point did Grimm stop being the driving force behind two separate incarnations of that dominant Hogs offensive line.
Following this weekend’s induction, former teammate Doc Walker summed up the affable Hog beautifully, “He really embodies what I think an offensive lineman is all about. He was the toughest guy on the block. He was mean. He had a nasty attitude, and he was a smart guy. He played the role of a Hell’s Angel, but the guy is really smart. He would break an opponent down on film. He had great technique. He was explosive. ” Walker went on to add that, “There was nothing he couldn’t do. He probably could have been a Hall of Fame center if he had stayed at center his whole career. A lot of it had to do with the fact that when he grew up, he played quarterback and fullback, he was an athlete trapped in this big body.”
It was likely that intelligence, and ability to break opponents down on film that allowed Grimm to progress to where he is today – assistant head coach and offensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Continuously mentioned for head coach openings, he was nearly named as Bill Cowher’s successor in Pittsburgh three years ago, but it fell through when the Steelers opted for Mike Tomlin instead. Grimm has evolved into not only a great position coach, but someone that will be manning the sidelines as the top dog for an NFL team, in the very near future.
Former Redskin tight end, and a stalwart member of the Hogs himself, Don Warren once said that, “Russ Grimm would swallow his dip by halftime and throw up on somebody’s shoes.”
On August 7th, 2010, that ‘blue collar stiff’ will be throwing up on his shoes at the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway