THN Home Page

Archive: The Hogs Articles category

Redskins Made Hog Heaven

Sunday, First Edition

Jacoby, Grimm, Bostic, May and Starke. On the field, they bowled over defenders, cleared holes that made 1,000-yard rushers out of castaway running backs, and led the Washington Redskins to four Super Bowls.

Off the field, they made being a stout, portly offensive lineman almost fashionable.

The Hogs.

Two are gone. The other three are at the end of their careers, often nursing injuries.

Two decades from now, will anyone remember?

Oh, yeah, they’ll remember. Maybe not their names. After all, few can rattle off the names of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame.

But collectively, the five Redskins have become part of the NFL lore alongside the “Fearsome Foursome” of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s and the “Purple People Eaters” of the Minnesota Vikings a decade later.

Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic, Mark May and George Starke transformed offensive linemen from unheralded blockers to NFL celebrities.

In their heyday — 1982 through 1991 — the Hogs inspired T-shirts, pennants, snouts, an entire line of clothing. For a while, there was even Hog beer.

“The thing just exploded,” recalled Grimm, the left guard in the original 1982 quintet and now a tight ends coach for the Redskins.

“It got so big that you could ask a person in Alaska, who are the Hogs? And the answer would come back, Washington’s offensive line.

“It was just like we were professional wrestlers. We took a lot of pride in it.”

Originally, the tag wasn’t intended to be flattering.

Joe Bugel, then the Redskins’ offensive coordinator, came up with it while looking across the field at training camp and seeing the prodigious bellies of Grimm and Bostic hanging over their belts.

“OK, you hogs, let’s go down in the bullpen and hit those sleds,” Bugel hollered.

In the heat and humidity of August in Carlisle, Pa., Grimm and Bostic soon shed some of the fat, but the nickname stuck. Pretty soon, Bugel and head coach Joe Gibbs were using it with reporters as the Redskins began the march to their first Super Bowl.

Grimm and Jacoby were second-year players at the time. Bostic and May were in their third years.

The only real veteran was Starke, the right tackle who, because of his decade in the league, became the “Head Hog.”

The whole idea, Bugel said, was to give a group of inexperienced lineman a sense of cohesion and pride. Bostic and Jacoby had both come into the league as free agents, their college careers at Clemson and Louisville not distinguished enough to warrant a draft pick.

“Some guys might have resented it, but these guys loved it,” Bugel said.

Opposing coaches would hang posters of hogs in their locker rooms the week of a game with the Redskins.

Grimm recalls opposing linebackers boasting about making bacon of him.

Bugel, the “Boss Hog,” bought them all T-shirts. Any Hog caught at Redskins Park not wearing one was fined $ 5, the money financing a postseason barbecue and beer bust at Bugel’s home.

“I remember we played one game really bad, I think it was against Houston,” Grimm said. “They got us for a couple of sacks. I still remember Buges saying, ‘Turn your shirts back in; you don’t deserve to wear them.’

“That really hurt. Buges was not only a coach, he was a father figure.”

It worked. In their debut season, Starke and the four newcomers formed one of the top offensive lines in football. Anchored by Bostic at center, their blocking paved the way for Joe Theismann’s 13 touchdown passes in a strike-shortened 1982 season.

On the heels of Grimm and Jacoby clearing out defensive linemen before him, John Riggins, a New York Jets castoff, ran for 119, 185 and 140 yards in the three playoff games leading to the Super Bowl, where he collected another 166 yards in a victory over the Dolphins.

Riggins scored 24 touchdowns the next year, still a league record. He was so grateful he gave each of his Hogs a $ 2,000 Weathersby rifle, made for hunting rhinos and elephants.

In later years, the Hogs opened up similar holes for the likes of George Rogers, Gerald Riggs and Earnest Byner, refugees from other teams who found new lives behind the Redskins’ line.

Riggins and defensive ends Donny Warren and Rick Walker were voted “Honorary Hogs” for their blocking prowess. But when Theismann made a block one game and asked to be made an Honorary Hog, he was voted down.

Being a Hog, Theismann was told, requires much more than making a block. It takes an attitude. Riggins had it; Theismann didn’t.

“Hey, Riggo was The Man; I mean he is The Man,” Grimm said. “When we were rookies and missing blocks and he was getting hit, he never said a word. I’ve never seen the guy get really excited. He’d score a touchdown and just hand the ball to the official. He never spiked it; never danced. He was just a blue-collar, hard-nosed tough guy.”

That’s how the Hogs saw themselves.

Starke, the most cerebral of the bunch, returned to his alma mater, Columbia University, after the Super Bowl to get an award for distinguished pro achievement.

He recalled abandoning a speech he’d spent four days preparing and getting a standing ovation when, after an introduction, he stood and said simply, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Head Hog.”

Starke, now 45, was the first to leave the group, retiring in 1985. Bugel left in 1989 to become head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals.

May went to San Diego in 1991 as a free agent after spending the entire 1990 season sidelined with a knee injured in 1989. A year later he rejoined Bugel in Phoenix. Next year, he could be the only original Hog still playing.

Grimm retired after the 1991 Super Bowl season. Jacoby and Bostic are still on the Redskins’ roster, but both were penciled in as backups in 1993.

With Washington’s offensive line devastated by injuries, Bostic has started at center on a bad knee most of the season. Jacoby started once, too, until a herniated disc, the latest in a long line of injuries, knocked him out for the season.

Neither has announced his retirement. But with the Redskins having to cut their payroll 25 percent to meet next year’s salary cap, both have been given a message that it might be time to retire.

“I was telling Boz just the other day that, ‘Before we’re all gone, I want to get a picture of you, me and Jake sitting on three Harley motorcycles,’ just to have it,” Grimm said.

“I think the name will always be there,” he said. “If it fades away, it fades away, just like we all do. But at the time, when it was happening, it was great.”

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Chicago Sun-Times

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

The Hogs: Redskins Offensive Line Has Grip on Nation’s Capital

The Seattle Times
Saturday, Final Edition

MINNEAPOLIS – The ballroom fills quickly with flesh. These huge, thick men are the first to enter for Thursday’s last round of pre-Super Bowl interviews. Shoulders as big as Chicago, arms redwood-thick, stomachs hanging fashionably over their sweatpants.
These ambling behemoths aren’t pretty sights. You won’t find these men inside “GQ.” They are Hogs, and you better say that with affection. They are the Washington Redskins’ offensive line. The most effective group of earthmovers in football.
In the most powerful city in the world, a city that thrives on celebrity, they are the muscle that is driving the nation’s capital wild.
The Hogs: faster than a speeding Congressman’s limo, more powerful than a member of the gun lobby, able to leap small cabinet members in a single bound.
Look, toiling in the trenches, behemoths splattered with blood. They are The Hogs. Starters Jeff Bostic, Joe Jacoby, Jim Lachey, Raleigh McKenzie, Mark Schlereth, Don Warren and reserves Russ Grimm, Ed Simmons, Mark Adickes and Ron Middleton.
“Once you’re enshrined in the Hogs, it makes you elite,” tight end Warren said.

Everything in the Washington Redskins’ offense starts with The Hogs. They give quarterback Mark Rypien the time to throw those remarkable deep routes to his fleet receivers. The Hogs open the cracks that Ricky Ervins darts through and they push forward for Earnest Byner’s punishing short bursts.
The Hogs allowed the fewest sacks (nine) in the league and haven’t allowed a sack in two playoff games. They also opened the holes that allowed the Redskins to run for an average of 128.1 yards per game.
“I don’t think the guy who invented football ever thought a bunch of big, fat offensive linemen named the Hogs would get all the publicity and adulation this group gets,” said guard-tackle Adickes, who came to Washington from Kansas City in 1990 as a Plan B free agent.
“I came to the Redskins specifically because I wanted to be a Hog,” Adickes, a six-year veteran, said. “When you’re an offensive lineman, you toil in anonymity most of your career.
“You become a lineman because they always stick the fattest kids on the line. When I was 9 years old, if you weighed over a certain limit, they stuck a black arm band on you and made you into a lineman. You get no respect. It’s hard to have any self-esteem.”

Ah, but if you are a Hog, the world is your pigpen. Your average salary is $ 475,000. You are the toast of D.C. You are invited to dine with Art Buchwald, dance with Sally Quinn. Your names are on the lips of ambassadors, Pentagon officials, senators and Supreme Court justices. You are in Hog Heaven.
“I could play line in any other city and nobody would recognize me in the supermarket,” said tackle Lachey, a former Los Angeles Raider. “But in Washington, little old ladies come up in the checkout line and critique my last game.
“The Hogs have such a great tradition. Television commentators like Dan Dierdorf and John Madden are doing closeups on the offensive linemen now. People can thank the Hogs for that. Offensive linemen never got any attention before them.”
For more than a decade, the Hogs have played to rave reviews. Like a successful rock ‘n’ roll band, there have been several defections and perfect replacements.

Tackle George Stark retired in 1985. Tackle Mark May left in 1990. But Lachey came from Los Angeles in 1988 and Schlereth was drafted out of Idaho in 1989.
Like a good band, these mountainous Hogs are interchangeable, experienced parts.
Tackle Ed Simmons was hurt against Dallas, and Adickes replaced him. Jacoby was hurt against Houston, and Grimm moved into right tackle. Lachey got hurt, Grimm moved to left tackle and Adickes went to right tackle. Warren missed six weeks with a fractured ankle, and the Redskins kept rolling with Middleton in his place.
Warren is a 13-year veteran. Bostic is playing in his 12th season. Jacoby and Grimm have been with the Skins for 11 years. They have survived surgeries and injuries and have continued to be the NFC’s pile-driving force.
“We’re getting older,” Jacoby, 32, said. “But other than that, things are pretty much the same. We might have a little more depth than we used to. We’ve got guys who can play each position on the line.”
Ultimately, tomorrow’s Super Bowl should come down to a trench battle between the Hogs of Washington and the defensive deer of Buffalo.
“We outweigh them by about 25 pounds a man,” Lachey said. “So it becomes a matter of whether the big guys can knock the little guys off the ball, or whether the little guys can run around the big guys. The only thing I can guarantee is that this game will be everything it’s hyped up to be.”
It will be Super Sunday and all of Washington’s eyes, ears, love and best wishes will be with the Hogs.

Dan Quayle should be so lucky.

Steve Kelley’s column usually is published Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Sports section of The Times.

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

The Hogskins

The Boston Globe
Friday, City Edition

These veteran, voracious linemen have no beef about lack of attention because in Washington, they’re the toast of the town

Here’s to people unashamed that they keep their appetites when all about them are losing theirs. To those who keep their eyes wide open after stepping on the bathroom scale. Those who walk with pride as they enter Big and Tall Man’s stores, who are first for seconds in the buffet line, who reach for the remote when a Nutrasystem commercial is aired, who admire Oprah Winfrey and Delta Burke, and who couldn’t care less that there’s yet another high-fiber cereal on the market.

Don’t you get tired of hearing how great it is to be slender? Of a society that caters to a thin waistline? Thank goodness for people like former Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel. Early in the 1982 season, he sought to add cohesiveness to his young unit – Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic, George Starke, Mark May – who all weighed in at 275 pounds or more. One day before practice, he addressed the troops with a nickname he had no idea would take off.

“All right, Hogs, hit the blocking sleds!”

The team responded well to the label that day, so Bugel had T-shirts made with “HOGS” in large letters printed across the chest. As a unit, the offensive linemen had to wear the shirts once a week. They were fined $ 5 for not doing so, about all they could afford at the time. But how could they not wear the shirts? Someone had finally cast the spotlight on the most overlooked unit in football. And he did so not because they are fast, strong or good at run-blocking or pass-blocking, but because in the coach’s mind, they resembled chubby-cheeked pigs.

As it turned out, the Hogs were fast off the line and strong. They were good run and pass blockers. They helped the Redskins finish second in the NFL in time of possession. They helped Joe Theismann lead the NFC in passing and opened gaping holes for running back John Riggins. They became the focal point of the ’82 team, which finished 8-1 in a strike-shortened season. In the playoffs, Grimm and Jacoby made famous the running play “counter trey” – two guards pulling side to side -which surprised many to see players their size move so well. The Redskins averaged 153 yards rushing in the playoffs. The team went on to win Super Bowl XVII, Washington’s first, as most valuable player Riggins rushed for 166 yards. The Washington Post headline the next day: “Riggins, Redskins Hog it All.”

For one of the first times in pro football, the smaller, slender, flashier guys got the yards, but the heavyweights got most of the credit. “Hogs” T-shirts and rubber snouts became popular sales items among Redskins fans. Overweight men attended games in dresses, wigs and snouts, calling themselves “Hoggettes.” Local merchants began calling for spots on commercials.

A decade later, the Hogs are still the most celebrated and, without a doubt, the most quoted offensive line in NFL history. And they are still going strong; Starke and May are gone, but Jacoby, Bostic and Grimm remain, and the Redskins have added fine talents like All-Pro Jim Lachey, Raleigh McKenzie and Mark Schlereth, who has supplanted Grimm as a starter. Together they allowed quarterback Mark Rypien to be sacked just seven times this year, tying an NFL record set by Miami in 1988.

For some, like Jacoby and Bostic, the first time they were interviewed extensively was when the nickname took off. “At first, it felt different because very seldom do offensive linemen get mentioned for anything other than a holding penalty, or something negative,” said Bostic, a 6-foot-2-inch, 278-pound center. “It finally started coming to a point where we were getting recognition for something positive.”

“I think what helped most was television,” said coach Joe Gibbs. “Now there’s instant replay and different camera angles and focus on one play. TV has done a great job of exposing a lot of positions that were hidden for a long time. Now you’ve got close-up views of linemen making great blocks. People get a greater appreciation for it; it’s helped expose some of the best part of football, the line play.”

But what does he know? If it had been left up to Gibbs, a couple of players may have never stuck around long enough to earn the nickname. Gibbs wanted to trade Bostic because he was considered merely a long snapper “and we couldn’t have a guy running around here just being a long snapper. He ended up going to the Pro Bowl the next year.”

Then there was Jacoby (6-6, 314), whom Gibbs initially thought was a defensive player. “When I came in here, signed as a free agent, I sat down to talk with coach Gibbs,” said Jacoby. “It was his first year here, and he was going off for about 20 minutes how great an opportunity I would have to make the team as a defensive lineman. So as a young guy, a kid out of college, I didn’t want to say anything, so I didn’t. I left things at that, walked out of the room, went over to the general manager’s office and signed a two-year contract. From what I heard, he was yelling at Bugel later when he found out I was an offensive lineman.”

“We tried to run him out of here,” said Gibbs.

Fortunately for the ‘Skins, the Hogs remained intact and made the best of their opportunities. “Looking back on the nickname now, it was done because we were such a young offensive line at the time,” said Jacoby. “It was done to keep us with a common goal. We’re together, we have this nickname, let’s live up to it.”

But who can carry the nickname, and who can’t? What makes a Hog a Hog?

“Once you come in on the offensive line and do your job and if you’re there a season or so, you’re qualified,” said Grimm (6-3, 284).

Bostic says the label doesn’t apply exclusively to linemen. “We’ve got tight ends that are Hogs,” he said. “Don Warren’s a Hog. He doesn’t catch many passes, but he doesn’t care about attention being brought to him. He just does his job.”

It also helps to be a lover of cuisine. No Ultra SlimFast candidates here. “I enjoy eating,” said Grimm. “As they say, I don’t eat a lot, but I do eat a lot. I usually never eat breakfast, and sometimes I don’t eat lunch. I’m one of those guys that when I do sit down and eat, it’ll usually last me for half a day.”

Is there any thought given to calorie intake, to fats and cholesterol, when you’re a Hog? Of course not.

“Do I watch what I eat? Yes, when I pick it up. That’s it,” said Grimm, a pasta, Italian and Polish food lover. Especially Polish food. As far as worrying about cholesterol intake, he said, “Hey, I look at it like this – everybody’s gotta go sometime.”

But while the Hogs might be big on chow time, they’re also serious about conditioning. They say that’s why they’ve been so durable.

“You don’t just show up in July and just play,” said Bostic, who battled back from a ligament-damaging knee injury in 1988. “You have to prepare to play well, spend time in the weight room. But you also have to be lucky to stay around this long.”

Like other offensive linemen, the Hogs don’t keep personal statistics on who blocked well and who didn’t. There’s no need.

“You can easily judge how good an offensive line is,” said Bostic. “When you see a team whose quarterback has been sacked a lot or a running back that doesn’t have many 100-yard games, it tells. You look at their won-lost record, and it usually shows there, too.”

Said Grimm, “I kinda think if we pick up the paper and see Rypien throw for four TDs or that running back Earnest Byner rush for 100 yards, then you sit back, have a cup of coffee and feel good that you did your job.”

The Hogs have been mainstays of the Redskins. Washington has taken three starting quarterbacks, several running backs and numerous wide receivers to Super Bowls. But most of the Hogs are still there, making it easier for the slender guys to make the transition. And unlike most offensive lines, getting the credit they deserve.

“Hopefully, every offensive line in the NFL – and in college – will start getting more attention,” said Bostic. “In 1982 and 1983, much of the success of our team was centered on what the offensive line did, but our situation is not unique by any means. All teams that are successful to the point of getting in the playoffs or the Super Bowl have to have great offensive lines.”

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

Rooting for Redskins: An Honor Among Hogs

Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

Hogs outnumber humans in Minnesota. This is a fact. The 1990 census uncovered 4,357,099 of us and 4,360,000 of them. Further bad news for us: The number of them just jumped by several.

Fortunately, they’re just visiting. They’ll be among the Washington Redskins leaving the state after the Super Bowl on Sunday.

”Vee hear about der Hogs – vut are der Hogs?” German TV asked Jeff Bostic yesterday.

To answer, Bostic revealed what a Hog does when he’s on his best behavior.

”We have Hogs’ Night Out. We all have tuxedos, and the latest fashion touch is Converse tennis shoes. We go to some restaurant and try not to get in trouble.”

Names and numbers have changed somewhat through the years since former offensive line coach Joe Bugel noticed Russ Gr’imm and fellow Redskins offensive linemen rooting around in training camp in 1982 and sagely remarked, ”You look like a bunch of hogs.”

Grimm is now a Lesser Hog. Head Hogs are Bostic, the center, guards Raleigh McKenzie and Mark Schlereth, and tackles Jim Lachey and Joe Jacoby, who gives every impression of being suitably humble about being enshrined in Hog Heaven as a Charter Hog.

”It’s something you ought to be proud of,” said the 11-year guard-tackle. ”It’s something to look back on. It’s something great, because it opened the eyes of the media to what happens on the offensive line.”

Hogs think rugs smell

If there is a Boss Hog these days, it is Lachey, the 28-year-old former Ohio State lineman who was acquired by Washington in 1988 from the Los Angeles Raiders in a steal for quarterback Jay Schroeder. Lachey previously had played for the San Diego Chargers. Now, he threatens to muscle right into the, uh, Hog of Fame.

But he, too, is suitably humble. Try as one might, it’s hard to find a really haughty Hog. Then again, being considered a Hog is probably a pretty humbling thing in itself.

”We don’t talk about it (being Hogs, that is) as much as the other teams do,” Lachey said. ”It is a great mystique. When I was out in San Diego and LA, you’d go into a grocery store and somebody was sure to say, ‘Boy, you’re a big guy – you must be a football player.’ Then you go to Washington and in the checkout line a little old lady says, ‘Oh, you’re a Hog!’ and starts critiquing the offensive line play.”

Though Hogs come and go (Jacoby, Bostic and Grimm are the only Charter Hogs left, unless you include 13-year tight end Don Warren), the essence of Hogism remains.

Hogs get down and dirty.

”We don’t like this,” Bostic said, kicking at the Metrodome rug. ”Hogs like mud.”

What it takes to be a Hog

Hogs aren’t born, they’re made.

”There’s nothing really required,” Grimm said. ”Obviously, if you play offensive line you’ve got some size to you. Everything else falls into place. You’re out there sweating together, it’s blood and mud and stuff, and everything else seems to blend in.”

He pointed to where Chip Lohmiller was entrancing the news media here for Sunday’s game between the Redskins and Buffalo Bills. ”If you want to stay clean, you should be standing on the podium where Lohmiller’s standing,” he said.

All told – this is today’s fun fact – the front five Hogs weigh in at 1,415 pounds, 285 of those belonging to Schlereth, who has undergone five surgical procedures on his left knee and three on the right, not including one complete knee reconstruction and one complete elbow reconstruction.

”I’ve also had chipped bones in the elbows, ankles and fingers,” he said, ”but other than that I’ve been relatively healthy.”

As you can see, True Hogs suck it up, and when you get right down to it all offensive linemen are at the least lower-case, uncapitalized hogs.

As a token of his esteem, quarterback Mark Rypien presented each of the Hogs a watch. However, none was noticed to be wearing his yesterday.

”Hogs don’t wear jewelry – ever,” Bostic snorted.

They do get a T-shirt, which makes up for not having a secret handshake or wearing pig snouts on the field.

”We had to take them off once,” Grimm said. ”We stunk up the place once at Houston by giving up seven or eight sacks and Bugel made us give all of the shirts back.”

That’s another thing about a Hog.

If the occasion demands, he’ll give you the shirt off his back.

Dick Fenlon is sports columnist for The Dispatch.

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

Introducing the Most Powerful Group in Washington

The New York Times
Tuesday, Late Edition – Final

Mark Rypien stepped to the line of scrimmage, called for a timeout and went to the sideline for a brainstorming session with Coach Joe Gibbs.

The Detroit Lions were bunching their defense toward the middle of the field. That led Gibbs and Rypien to conclude that “Blast” was the ideal play to call. It was fourth-and-1 at the Detroit 3 with Washington ahead by only 10-7 and nearly seven minutes left before halftime in the National Conference championship game.

“Ryp comes back to the huddle and calls ‘Blast’ and my eyes light up,” said Redskin left guard Raleigh McKenzie.

For McKenzie, for all of the Redskins’ offensive linemen, a play like “Blast” is the equivalent of a receiver getting the nod for a bomb. So many linemen are in motion on the play and the margin for error is slim against a defense stacked aggressively in a short-yardage stance.

“My first thought was, ‘Wow, I get to pull and lead on the play!’ ” McKenzie said. “Then I was thinking, ‘Don’t give the play away, don’t move too soon.’ It was a popular play for us last year but I can’t remember us running it but maybe once this whole season. You get your number called and you’re the guy that can make it happen. You can be a hero or goat.”

Gerald Riggs would score on a 3-yard off-tackle run on “Blast” and the Redskins would continue to roll toward their 41-10 victory over Detroit in part because their offensive lineman, their Hogs, showed their domination along the line of scrimmage throughout the game.

Everything starts up front with the Redskins: the scintillating deep passes to their wondrous receivers, the bruising runs by Earnest Byner, the jerky, shifty ones by Ricky Ervins. The Hogs — a name that lingers from the Redskins’ three Super Bowl teams of the 1980’s — have helped carry Washington to Super Bowl XXVI, where they will meet the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Many teams in that near-the-goal-line, short-yardage situation would resort to raw power, bull ahead and hope for the best. Not Gibbs. The Redskins’ creativity on offense includes the versatility of their offensive line. It has size, quickness, balance and smarts.

“We’ve got great depth,” said the offensive line coach, Jim Hanifan. “In the game at Dallas, Ed Simmons is hurt and Mark Adickes plays the whole second half at right tackle and we come from behind and win. Against Houston, Joe Jacoby goes down and Russ Grimm moves to right tackle. Then Jim Lachey gets hurt and Simmons is already on injured reserve.

“We move Grimm to left tackle and Adickes to right tackle. Both did a tremendous job and we win in overtime. In the first game against Atlanta, Grimm starts at left tackle for Lachey and sprains an ankle in the third quarter. Adickes came in there and we finish with 56 points. That’s a lot of depth.”

And experience.

Center Jeff Bostic, Jacoby and Grimm are the original Hogs, with Bostic now in his 12th season and Jacoby and Grimm in their 11th. Each has had major knee surgery during his career. Each keeps pulverizing opponents and adding another chapter to the history of the Hogs.

The starters are Lachey at left tackle, McKenzie at left guard, Bostic at center, Mark Schlereth at right guard and Jacoby at right tackle. Adickes, Grimm and Ed Simmons are reserves.

Tight end Don Warren, when not lined up in the backfield as an H-Back, gives the group more beef up front. And when the Redskins go with their Heavy package, adding either tight ends Ron Middleton or Terry Orr, the Hogs become Whales.

Jacoby at 6 feet 7 inches and 314 pounds is the biggest offensive lineman. Bostic, at 278 pounds, is the lightest. As a group, they allowed the fewest sacks (nine) in the league this season and they are as adept in run-blocking as in providing pass protection. Washington averaged 128.1 rushing yards per game this season and through two games in the playoffs has not allowed a sack.

McKenzie said part of the line’s solid pass protection is because of the unusual seven-to-nine-step drop that Rypien employs. His deep drops into the pocket give the linemen — especially the tackles — more room to maneuver, McKenzie said.

“I think it’s a better line than we had in any of this group’s other Super Bowls,” Bostic said. “It’s the experience that makes it so. Now, instead of worrying about playing harder, you worry about playing smarter. That’s a huge difference and it only comes with experience. There is no guesswork with what the other person is thinking. We’ve been through the battles before and not only know what the guy next to you is thinking but also what he can do.

“The ‘Blast’ play against Detroit was a pressure play. We hadn’t run it since whenever and that’s what I mean by having the experience. People still knew what to do. I give Hanny a lot of credit. He’s been here two years now and he’s coaching like when he first came here. He knew he was getting a group of veterans and instead of making them adjust to him, he adjusted to us.”

Adickes, a Plan B acquisition from the Kansas City Chiefs in 1990, said of Hanifan, a 17-year N.F.L. coach: “He’s the perfect guy for a veteran group. You couldn’t have a more personable guy and he does not waste time. I’ve had coaches give you your plays, then draw each one up on the board all over again. He gives it to you and expects you to learn and show that in practice.

Bruce Smith: Look Out

Hanifan said his linemen respect Buffalo’s defense. He is not sure whether Bills defensive end Bruce Smith is 100 percent healed from his knee injury but indicated that the Redskins will find out.

“I’m not saying we’re going to run at the guy all day, no way,” Hanifan said. “But at some point you can’t be shy about going over there and we will. Their defensive front has shown in the last few weeks that they can stand up against anybody.”

But the Hogs, old and new, have shown all season that they can steamroll over anyone.

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

HOG HEAVEN; Offensive line brings home the bacon for Redskins

Metro Edition

There are good reasons why Joe Gibbs is the NFL coach of the year. He possesses vision. Patience. Foresight. Insight. So when the now-famous Hogs first lined up together as piglets in 1981, Gibbs knew.

He knew they wouldn’t make his team.

Jeff Bostic was a deep snapper, and we thought, well, hey, we’ve got to replace him, we can’t have somebody running around who’s just a deep snapper,” Gibbs said last week at Redskins Park. “And he goes to the Pro Bowl as a center. We drafted Russ Grimm to play center, and Bostic did so well we moved Grimm to guard, and he becomes a Pro Bowler. We started with Mark May at tackle, and later moved him to the other side.

Joe Jacoby was a free agent that I tried to run off without a contract because I didn’t know who Joe Jacoby was, and he winds up being an All-Pro tackle. That shows you what I know.”

Eleven years later, Bostic still starts at center. Jacoby still starts, although he has proven you can teach old Hogs new tricks by switching from left tackle to right tackle to wherever else they need him. He has played mostly at right tackle this season.

Former backup Raleigh McKenzie has taken over at left guard. Two relative newcomers – All-Pro left tackle Jim Lachey and first-time Pro Bowl guard Mark Schlereth – have made an already formidable group one of the most heralded units in pro football, along with the 49ers’ receivers and the Eagles’ defensive line.

The Hogs are one of the biggest, beefiest reasons the Redskins will play in their fourth Super Bowl in nine years Sunday at the Metrodome. This season, they helped the Redskins finish fourth in the NFL in total offense. They cleared the way for Earnest Byner’s 1,000-yard season and, more impressively, held opponents to just seven sacks of quarterback Mark Rypien, and nine total.

“I have to give them most of the credit for our offensive success,” said Byner, who has made two straight Pro Bowls running behind the Hogs. “They’ve had great pass protection all year, along with the running backs. As long as they do their job, whoever’s in there is going to be successful. And if they’re not doing their jobs, I don’t care if you have Houdinis in there, they’re not going to be successful.”

Even Doug Henning could make positive yardage behind these guys. Consider the choice bacon on hand:

Former Head Hog Joe Bugel – now the Cardinals’ head coach – tried to run off Bostic a few years ago, but Bostic hung onto his job and had a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 1991. He’s considered the leader of the group.

Jacoby, whom Gibbs once mistook as a defensive tackle, played guard and tackle, and excelled at both positions. Despite his 300-plus-pound frame, he’s agile enough to pull and block on the Redskins’ key counter-gap and counter-trey plays.

Lachey, the best left tackle in the game, came to the Redskins in one of former general manager Bobby Beathard’s best deals – the one that sent disgruntled and unproven quarterback Jay Schroeder to the Raiders in 1988. While Schroeder’s ability has been constantly questioned, Lachey has become one of the Redskins’ most valuable players.

Schlereth is one of the game’s best young guards, along with the Vikings’ Randall Cunningham and the Raiders’ Steve Wisniewski, and could be All-Pro caliber in two seasons.

Raleigh McKenzie, once considered a top backup, has proven his worth as a starter as the line broke the team record for fewest sacks allowed in a season.

“This offensive line is as good as the ones in the early ’80s, I think,” said Redskins linebacker Matt Millen, who played against the Hogs throughout the ’80s. “They’re probably stronger at the guards, because I would take Raleigh McKenzie over Mark May, and Russ Grimm and Schlereth are both the same kind of player. I think, in time, with no injuries, Schlereth will have as good a career as Grimm has had – and let me tell you something, Russ Grimm is one of the best guards I’ve ever played against.”

Now he’s one of the Redskins’ key backups. Guard Mark Adickes played a key role as a backup this season after deciding not to leave for several lucrative Plan B offers. Ed Simmons began the season as a starter, but couldn’t win his job back after the line clicked without him. Grimm, an original Hog, is in effect a player/coach, a role the real coach appreciates.

“I think the difference in the offensive line, as opposed to other units that haven’t stayed as productive for so long, is that other good young players have come along, like Lachey and Mark Schlereth,” Gibbs said. “And we have people like Rollo (McKenzie) who have stepped in, and it’s been a great transition. You’ve had good young players coming in and taking the starting roles, and some young guys like Russ Grimm taking backup roles, which is the perfect way to have it.”

It was Grimm who inspired the line’s nickname. During one particularly wet practice in the early ’80s, Bugel told him he looked like a hog slopping around in the mud. The name stuck, and success followed.

What has become apparent in recent years is that despite their size, the Hogs are agile, active athletes. The Redskins’ offense depends on their ability to provide moving pockets and to pull and run ahead of counters and sweeps.

“I think what has helped them gain recognition is that the media and TV has started showing exactly what these guys do,” Gibbs said. “Now you’ve got instant replay and people who can focus the cameras, and highlight a lot of positions that went hidden for a long time. Now you’ve got closeup views of linemen getting great blocks, and I think people get a greater appreciation for it. It’s helped to expose the fact that some of the best football is line play.”

But football is just one Hog hobby. Almost every day after practice, they convene at a shed behind Redskins Park for The Five O’Clock club, which, Adickes said, doesn’t spend much time reviewing minutes. “We just all get together after practice and have a few cold ones and talk and play cards,” he said. “We don’t even always talk about football. We just hang out.”

There is one problem with the Hogs hanging out in the Twin Cities this week, in this Super Bowl. They do not belong on turf. The Metrodome will not be Hog Heaven.

“Hogs live on grass, and love the mud,” Adickes said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to keep playing in RFK. Hogs do not thrive on artificial turf.”

But this is one of many cases in which the Hogs might resemble 800-pound gorillas. Usually they thrive wherever they want to.

Hogs file:

Jim Lachey (79) / Tackle, Ohio State, 6-6, 290, 7th year. Fun fact – Started as a sophomore forward on his state championship high school basketball team.

Mark Schlereth (69) / Guard, Idaho, 6-3, 285, 3rd year. Fun fact – First Native-born Alaskan to play in the NFL.

Jeff Bostic (53) / Center, Clemson, 6-2, 260, 12th year. Fun fact – Was a state wrestling champion (187 lbs.) in Greensboro, N.C.

Joe Jacoby (66) / Guard/tackle, Louisville, 6-7, 310, 11th year. Fun fact – Received the nickname “Jake the Quake’ in 1984 after falling on a fumble by the Vikings in the end zone, becoming the first lineman in Redskins’ history to score a touchdown.

Raleigh McKenzie (63) / Guard/center, Tennessee, 6-2, 270, 7th year. Fun fact – His twin brother, Reggie, born three minutes earlier, was a teammate at Tennessee and played for the Raiders and Cardinals.

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

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

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

The Hogs: Not as Famous, but Still Proud

The Washington Post

They Wear Jeans, Flip-Flops, Baseball Caps;
They Do Not Like Glamor or Admit Quarterbacks

Still Hogs after all these years, the Washington Redskins offensive line must belly-up to the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl game here.

If Broncos quarterback John Elway plays as well as advertised, the best Redskins’ strategy will be to keep him bored on the bench. To do this, Washington must control the ball and the clock or, in other words, be hogs.

In 1982, offensive line coach Joe Bugel just happened to begin a practice by screaming, “Let’s go, you hogs,” and his linemen followed single-file. Because the linemen were proud to be pigs, the nickname stuck, and it became a rallying cry that season as John Riggins ran the Redskins to a Super Bowl victory and so much more.

The Hogs became so well-known, they even had cheerleaders — four large men in dresses and hog snouts. Quarterback Joe Theismann threw a key block one day and begged to be named an “honorary piglet.” Pot bellies were in, and the Redskins had appropriately named running plays like “50 Gut.”

Alas, it has mostly died down since then, with Bugel blaming that on the retirements of Riggins, Theismann and Head Hog, George Starke. Riggins is the only running back ever to be made a Hog, and current running backs George Rogers, Timmy Smith and Kelvin Bryant have no prayer of following in his footsteps.

The Redskins’ offensive philosophy no longer is to pound defenses into oblivion, probably because their best players are passers and pass-catchers. On the other hand, Coach Joe Gibbs wouldn’t mind controlling the ball for 40 minutes in Sunday’s game.

The current group of Hogs has three charter members — center Jeff Bostic and tackles Mark May and Joe Jacoby. Another original — Russ Grimm — rides the bench. The newcomers are guards Raleigh McKenzie and R.C. Theilemann, who each rate their ascension to Hogdom as one of life’s most cherished moments.

Contrary to popular belief, new Hogs do not have to pass strenuous tests to join. “They don’t make guys chug two gallons of beer,” Theilemann said.

Instead, you’re automatically a Hog if you start for most of the season. You know you’re in when you find a Hogs T-shirt at your locker. New T-shirts are distributed every fall.

“Well, they’re not the most expensive shirts in the world,” Theilemann said. “They’re T-shirts, and they’re extra larges and they kind of fade after a few washes, so we have to replenish them after every year.”

Every Thursday is “Hog Thursday,” which means you must wear your shirt all day. If you forget to wear it — like May has done a couple of times this year — you’re fined $ 50, though Bugel is thinking about increasing the penalty.

“[Bugel] says inflation’s up, so he’s up, too,” May complained.

Still, May hasn’t paid his fines yet.

“I will,” he said this week.

Theilemann said he will believe that when he sees it. “He may be the toughest guy in the world to collect from,” Thielemann said. “I think we’ll never see that $ 50.”

Theilemann, acquired in 1985 from Atlanta, was even a Hog in college — an Arkansas Razorback. When he joined the Redskins, he immediately was reordained a Hog, though May said: “R.C. got off easy, I guess because he was an older, seasoned veteran.”

Theilemann, reciting somewhat of a Hog anthem, said: “Hogs, it’s the guys with no finesse. They call us dirt bags, lunch-pail guys, blue-collar guys. There are numerous names you can call us. We wear jeans, flip-flops, tennis shoes, baseball caps. We don’t like the glamorous life and we work hard. We work hard every day.”

Bugel’s method of separating the Hogs from the men is putting them through what he calls “a pain and torture program.” In other words, training camp.

Theismann never had to hit a blocking dummy every day, which is why he never made “piglet.” Besides, Bugel said: “We don’t want a quarterback in the gang.”

Grimm gives Bugel 50 percent of the Hogs’ credit. “Really, 50 percent is ability and 50 percent is Buges,” Grimm said. “No kidding.”

Theilemann thinks Bugel is ahead of his time in terms of teaching line play, and he explained, “We work on footwork until our feet fall off.”

Bugel often gets linked to head coaching jobs, and the Hogs think they’ll lose him someday. “When it happens,” Grimm said, “I imagine he’ll get a lot of phone calls.”

Bugel, meanwhile, said this season’s is his best line, though he added: “I think it’ll have to win a Super Bowl” to be ranked side by side with the 1982 group. Clearly, there’s more athleticism now than there was before with McKenzie, a superb pass blocker, and Theilemann, who is quick for a 6-foot-4, 265-pounder. The line’s average weight, though, still is 279 pounds.

“I think the trend toward Hogs being fat guys is gone now,” Theilemann said. “Seems like everybody’s in better shape now. The wives are keeping us off the streets.”

On the other hand, there are some imposing Hogs waiting in the pen — 340-pound Wally Kleine and 320-pound Ed Simmons, both rookies. Kleine, drafted as a tackle, also will be tried at guard next season; Simmons started games at both guard and tackle this season.

“Those two, they’re getting close to 400 pounds,” said Bugel, who won’t rule out the possibility of a line entirely of 400-pounders. In the meantime, the 279-pound Hogs will have to do.

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

Sports of the Times; Hogs in Three-Piece Suits

The New York Times
Thursday, Late City Final Edition

By the nature of their role, offensive lines toil without attention, usually without a nickname, always until now without a corporation. Block and be quiet. One of the few lines ever to emerge as even slightly famous was the Electric Company, which turned on the juice for O. J. Simpson in Buffalo a decade ago. Around that time the Miami Dolphins also had their Mushrooms.

”They called us that,” Bob Kuechenberg said, ”because we were kept in the dark.”

But as Super Bowl XVIII approaches, the Hogs have joined Miss Piggy and the Three Little Pigs as the most storied swine in history. These are prize Hogs on the cleat instead of the hoof – the five offensive linemen, two tight ends and the fullback John Riggins – who will be helping the Washington Redskins defend their National Football League championship Sunday against the Los Angeles Raiders.

At stake is the Hogs’ corporate future in three-piece suits, not shoulder pads. If the Redskins were to lose, would it be possible, or proper, for them to maintain Super Hogs Inc. as the title of the firm that grossed $150,000 last year?

At their office in Washington, the Hogs license 40 products, from pig snouts and T-shirts to posters and the ultimate contradiction in terms, Hog quiche. Their office also handles Hog appearances and speaking engagements, with 15 percent of the corporate income going to Martha’s Table, a soup kitchen in Washington for homeless children.

”It’s something we did not to make a profit off of,” the left guard Russ Grimm was saying now. ”We just did it to bring the team together and bring the Washington fans together. But now it’s a term we have to live up to.”

It’s also a term that Russ Grimm is considering abandoning in order to join the Pittsburgh Maulers of the United States Football League if he doesn’t sign a new Redskin contract before Feb. 1, when he would become a free agent.

”I don’t want to talk about that contract situation now,” Russ Grimm said. ”When the Super Bowl is over, I’ll get all the facts on the table from both teams and make my decision. By myself. I don’t have an agent, I don’t need one. I know what I’m worth.”

But at least one Hog would not resent Russ Grimm’s leaving the pigpen.

”If Russ were to go to the U.S.F.L.,” said the right tackle George Starke, ”it would affect the group to a degree, but as a Hog and as a friend, I’d be supportive. The bottom line of this business is to make money. If he can make more money, good for him.”

George Starke’s title is the Head Hog, not to be confused with the Boss Hog, alias Joe Bugel, the Redskins’ assistant head coach-offense, who baptized them.

”In training camp before the 1982 season,” George Starke recalled, ”Coach Bugel looked at Russ Grimm and said, ‘You are a prototype hog.’ After that, it just caught on among us and the tight ends, then we made John a member, too.”

George Starke, once the center on Columbia basketball teams with Jim McMillian and Heyward Dotson and now a film-maker, is also the senior Hog at age 35, but all the other linemen are young. In height and weight, these Hogs are huge:

Left tackle: Joe Jacoby, 6-7, 311, age 24, a free agent from Louisville signed as a defensive lineman, third season.

Left guard: Russ Grimm, 6-3, 292, age 24, a third-round choice from Pittsburgh, where he had been a center, third season.

Center: Jeff Bostic, 6-2, 258, age 25, a free agent from Clemson, fourth season.

Right guard: Mark May, 6-6, 295, age 24, first-round choice from Pittsburgh, third season.

Right tackle: George Starke, 6-5, 270, age 35, free agent from Columbia, 11th season.

If those five Hogs were prodded into a stockyard, their weights would add up to 1,426 pounds, give or take their latest meal. Including the two tight ends, 245-pound Don Warren and 243-pound Rick Walker, and 235- pound John Riggins, the 8 Hogs weigh a total of 2,149 pounds, more than a ton. And yesterday, wearing a camouflage outfit, John Riggins was asked to provide a capsule description of the Hogs he loves to run behind.

Joe Jacoby,” he said, ”Interstate 66, go West, young man, go West. He’s gonna be around a few years. ”Russ Grimm, he’ll be a tremendous player for the Maulers once they land him. Jeff Bostic, the best center in the league. Mark May, none to compare with him, U.S. 373.

George Starke, like myself, us dinosaurs have managed to escape evolution.”

Those five Hogs enabled John Riggins to set a Super Bowl record

with 166 rushing yards against the Miami Dolphins last year as the Redskins accumulated a record 276 rushing yards in their 27-17 victory. But if the Redskins are to win their second Super Bowl ring, the Hogs must block effectively not only for John Riggins but also for the quarterback, Joe Theismann.

”Theismann hasn’t been hurt,” Lyle Alzado was saying yesterday, ”but I don’t think anybody has put a good shot on him.”

To accomplish that, Lyle Alzado must get by Joe Jacoby, an all-pro as big as a building. In the Redskins’ 37- 35 triumph over the Raiders early this season, the bearded defensive end had only one tackle and shared one sack.

”Jacoby’s one of the better tackles. He’s good,” Lyle Alzado acknowledged reluctantly. ”I’m not going to say he’s great. He’s not as great as Jim Brown, as Deacon Jones, as Forrest Gregg.”

After the Raiders won the American Football Conference title, Lyle Alzado talked about ”tearing off” John Riggins’s head if the opportunity develops. When the Redskin fullback was reminded of that threat yesterday as he stood at the lectern in his only public appearance this week, he smiled.

”Over at the stadium yesterday at photo day I was looking for a nice soft spot on the grass, so that when he knocks my block off, it won’t bounce too far,” John Riggins said. ”I hope he’s enough of a gentleman so that when my head falls off, he’ll hand it back to me.”

Told later of John Riggins’s response, Lyle Alzado laughed.

”I’ll put his head back,” the bearded Raider said, smiling, ”as long as he takes the cleat marks out of my chest.”

Make that Hog hooves out of his chest, not cleat marks.

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles

On the Redskins’ Offensive Line, It’s Still a Hog’s Life

The Washington Post
Sunday, Final Edition

Life’s not always easy when you’re a Hog, one of those grimy, crouched-over fellows on the Washington Redskins offensive line.

“During the preseason, Datsun called SuperHogs Inc. and told us they were interested in creating a ‘Hog Hauler’ pickup truck,” right guard Mark May said recently. SuperHogs Inc. is a corporation created by several in the group in the offseason.

“Each of us would have gotten free use of one of the trucks for a year,” May said. “Then we lose to Dallas in the opener and Datsun backs off. Maybe they thought we had lost what we had from the Super Bowl.”

But these Hogs are enterprising sorts. Said May, “If Datsun doesn’t make up their minds, we’ll just go to Toyota.”

Life’s not always easy when you’re a Hog and the Los Angeles Raiders are on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

Nearly a month ago, the Redskins’ offensive line blocked and socked away in a ruffian world during the Redskins’ remarkable 37-35 victory over the Raiders.

From Hog left to Hog right–left tackle Joe Jacoby, left guard Russ Grimm, center Jeff Bostic, May and right tackle George Starke (the group also includes tight ends Rick Walker and Don Warren)–comes the unanimous opinion that the Raiders game was the Redskins’ most physical game of the year.

“The Raiders were pushing us, hitting us after plays and trying to intimidate us,” said Bostic. “But that doesn’t work against us.”

Taped to Jacoby’s Redskin Park locker is a picture of Raiders end Lyle Alzado with his hand extended through Jacoby’s face mask, treating his nose like a doorknob. This scene appears even more excruciating than the one last Sunday, when Jacoby’s helmet fell off and Detroit defensive end William Gay, out of frustration, kicked it 40 yards downfield.

“The two teams just went at it,” Jacoby said. “When the Raiders took a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, they started yelling at us. I guess I expected it. It’s part of the game.”

The primary opposition for the Hogs that afternoon was Raiders defensive end Howie Long, who had four quarterback sacks.

“I wasn’t even playing against him. George (Starke) was,” said May. “On the second play of the game, Howie Long comes over and is cussing at me. I went to Starke in the huddle and said ‘George, who’s he cussing at?’

“George said ‘You.’ I said ‘Me? I’m on the other side of the field.’ I didn’t know what he was doing. Howie Long is deranged.”

The Hogs’ Super Bowl-inflated fame, they say, has turned defensive linemen surlier this year. “In the playoffs last year,” said Grimm, “Minnesota said they’d come in and butcher the Hogs. This year, it’s not anything that they are saying, but it’s something we can read in their minds when we line up. The defenses are up for us.”

“The thing is,” said Starke, “teams come in knowing that they have to play a great game against us.”

With a facts-are-facts expression, Starke said, “Otherwise, they know they’ll get killed.”

The Redskins offensive line has been a dominant force this year, knocking defenders into the mezzanine.

“They just blow people off the line,” said Coach Don Coryell, whose Chargers play the Redskins Monday night in San Diego.

“I could talk about officials’ calls or the Redskins holding or any number of things,” Detroit’s Gay said after the Hogs had opened holes that allowed running back Joe Washington to run for 147 yards in the Redskins’ 38-17 victory. “But the truth is, their offensive line plays so well together, we just got frustrated.”

The Redskins’ offense glitters these days: running back John Riggins averages 94 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Joe Theismann has thrown 17 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.

The Redskins offense leads the National Football League in three categories: scoring (33.7 points per game), rushing yards per game (160.3 yards) and in time of possession (33 minutes 39 seconds).

Stats tilt this way because of the Hogs.

“You have to look at the entire game to get a feel for what we’re doing,” said Starke. “No, I don’t think how many sacks you give up shows the strength of an offensive line (the Redskins have given up 17 sacks, sixth best in the league).

“Usually the best way to show a line’s strength is to look at rushing yards. But that doesn’t really work either. I mean look at (Chicago’s) Walter Payton. He gained all those yards and his offensive line was terrible.

“It’s just that we do so many things. Little Joe (Washington) runs downfield against Detroit and people ask, ‘Why is he stopping?’ The answer is because he knew the big boys were coming, that’s why. That’s one thing we (offensive linemen) do. We get downfield.

“There are some lines that can pass block, but not run block. We can do both. We’re not extraordinary. You see, it’s all in the coaching.”

Joe Bugel is the Redskins’ offensive line coach. “Our guru,” said May. Usually when you’re an offensive line coach, linemen swear at you. The Hogs swear by Bugel.

“We gave up 30 sacks in the (nine-game) regular season last year. For the quality of our line that was too much,” said Bugel. “We try for a shutout (no sacks) each week now, even though that’s probably unrealistic with all the blitzing defenses are doing these days.”

Perhaps the most telling stat about the Redskins offensive line is this: among the five down linemen, none has missed a game due to injury in two years.

“We stress technique to prevent injury. We teach the best possible body position to receive and accept a blow,” said Bugel. “When you’re off-balance, there is a chance for injury. Woody Hayes stressed that when I worked for him at Ohio State (1974).”

It’s not a coincidence, Bugel said, that the Redskins now rank first in rush offense and in rush defense. “Our defense makes us better.

“If you want to play physical, we feel you have to practice physical. We have to play guys like Dave Butz and Dexter Manley every day. If a team has a good rush offense, it should have a good rush defense, too . . . When we go into a game, we have to wear opponents out. The stat we really care about is time of possession. It’s big to us. That means we’re controlling the ball.”

Consider the line:

Left tackle Jacoby is 6 feet 7, 300 pounds. He is a power blocker who faces the right end, a position almost always manned by the best pass rusher. Since most offenses are right-handed, Bugel said, they tend to run to the right side, causing the defense to place the end superior in run defense on that side and the end who is superior in the pass rush on the other side–Jacoby’s.

“Left tackle is the toughest position on the offensive line,” said Bugel. “Basically, you have no one next to you (on offense) and the speed rusher is lined up three to four yards outside of you.”

Left guard Grimm is 6-3, 275 pounds. His knees and ankles ache. So does his shoulder. “Really, it’s the perfect body for a lineman,” said Bugel, in all seriousness.

“Some people say I have a 35-year-old body and George Starke has a 25-year-old body,” said Grimm, 24. (Starke is 35).

“It won’t cut down on how long I play. It will cut down on how comfortably I play,” he said.

Center Bostic is 6-2, 250. He’s in his fourth year, one year ahead of Jacoby, Grimm and May, seven behind Starke.

“Bostic has never been hurt and I don’t know another center in this league who could say the same thing,” said Bugel. Teammates kid Bostic, who is so pudgy they call him “The Doughboy.”

“He’s a great leverage player,” said Bugel. “He gets his shoulder pads underneath the defensive guy’s pads.”

Left guard May is 6-6, 288. He won the Outland Trophy at Pittsburgh in 1980. He’s a natural tackle, who likely won’t play tackle until Starke retires. Starke said he wants to play a few more years.

“We knew Mark could play against the 4-3 (defense) when somebody lined up over him,” said Bugel. “Now, he’s learning to play against the 3-4, when nobody is over him and he has to go out, find someone and hit him. That’s important because we pull our guards to lead all our screens.”

Right tackle Starke is 6-5, 260. He’s a full decade older than his Hogmates.

“You could hand feed the kids when we all came in together a few years ago,” said Bugel. “But George had to break a lot of bad habits to fit into our mold. He was more of an assignment blocker than a technique blocker. You know, ‘Just block a guy. I don’t care how you do it.’ We fine-tune guys, teach them how to pump their arms. George has a great deal of smarts.”

Apparently, life’s not always easy when you’re a Hog and the world knows your number, but not your face. “People see me and always think I’m Bostic,” said Grimm.

“People always think I’m Grimm,” said Bostic.

When his face mask isn’t getting infiltrated or heaved by defensive toughs, Jacoby still has it hard. As proof positive that being a Hog doesn’t guarantee unmitigated glory, Jacoby said, “My size is kind of hard to hide. I was walking out the door of a mall the other day. Somebody saw me and the guy yells ‘Hey, there’s Dave Butz!’ ”

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

Categories Posted In Archive: The Hogs Articles