Welcome to the History of the Hogs, the group of offensive linemen that were an iconic chapter in the tapestry of the Washington franchise. Born from their dominating presence on the offensive line, The Hogs became synonymous with power, and tenacity and perhaps more significantly, their unity. The legendary group of linemen forged a legacy that transcended the field, captivated fans, and left an ever-lasting mark on the organization’s rich football history.
From their origins, to their pivotal role in Super Bowl triumphs, this page delves into the remarkable journey of The Hogs – celebrating their camraderie, unmatched grit, and their impact on both the game and the franchise.
The Hogs Name
Most football fans have heard of the famous Washington offensive line of the 1980’s called The Hogs, but how did the unit get their name?
It all started at the Redskins 1982 training camp. Offensive Line coach Joe Bugel was working with his line, a ‘chunky’ bunch, and wanting them to hit the blocking sheds, he said, “Okay, you Hogs, let’s get running down there.”
That’s really all there was to it.
A slightly different version of how exactly it came to pass, came from George Starke:
“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.’ “
Whichever the case, the guys embraced the nickname and the moniker stuck. T-shirts were made up with razorback hogs on them, and The Hogs were required to wear the shirts one day each week, or pay a $5 fine to Boss Hog Bugel’s Hog Feast fund.
Shirts were also used as rewards – like the KO Block. That was given when a lineman laid out his opponent so fiercely that their head snapped back off the ground.
“The most I ever got in one year was 11,” said Joe Jacoby.
The Members of The Hogs
Starke was the senior member of the squad. He was already a team captain, but almost never played a down in the NFL. He was drafted in 1971 by Washington, but was cut two weeks into training camp. He went and tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs, and ended up being their very last cut.
In 1972, he was cut six weeks into a Dallas Cowboys training camp. Fortunately, Washington asked him to return and try again. This time he made the taxi squad (practice squad), but managed to play his way to starting right tackle by 1973.
By the time the Hogs rolled into shape, he was a grizzled veteran and ten years older than the rest of the gang. Perhaps that’s why he was indeed, the Head Hog. All of the other Hogs were new to the team.
Bostic was signed as a long snapper in 1980 after being cut by the Eagles. General Manager Charlie Casserley had seen Bostic play center and guard at Clemson and had been impressed. Though he played guard as a senior, Casserley thought he was a better center. Bostic earned his way to the starting center job by the beginning of his second season.
That season was 1981, and that was when it all started for the Hogs. Washington drafted two rookie linemen that year – both out of Pittsburgh – with their first two picks. They took May with their first round pick, the 20th overall. They took Grimm with their third round pick, the 69th overall.
As a first round pick, May Day arrived to a lot of hype. He was Pitt’s first ever Outland Trophy winner and had not allowed a sack in either his junior or senior season. However, he actually ended up on the bench early on, before being moved to his eventual home at right guard. He would ultimately start at both right guard and right tackle in his time as a Hog.
The Grimm Reaper was also highly regarded – especially by the Redskins. Washington gave up their first-round draft choice in 1982, to be able to select him in the third in 1981. Obviously he as worth it. Coach Bugel once described him as, “one of the most complete football players, and people, that I’ve ever coached.”
He is the only Hog in the Hall of Fame.
The final piece of the puzzle, the biggest piece, joined the Redskins that same famed 1981 training camp. A giant rookie undrafted free agent from Louisville named Joe Jacoby walked into Coach Gibbs’ office looking for a job. Figuring Jacoby was a defensive tackle because of his massive size (6’7″, 305 lbs), Gibbs told Joe that he’d give him a chance.
Folklore tells the story that Gibbs was upset with Bugel for not telling him that Big Jake was an offensive tackle. Washington already had such a glut of offensive linemen at camp that year (18). Obviously in this instance, Buges was right. He had seen and talked to Jacoby as a senior and asked him to put on some weight.
The positions they officially played changed early and with some frequency, but those are the five original offensive linemen and core of The Hogs.
The rest is history.
Don Warren was not originally a Hog but The Flying Dutchman became one.
Riggins campaigned to be a Hog, as did Theismann.
“No quarterbacks,” said Head Hog Starke.
The Hogs loved John though and he was admitted as an Honorary Hog. Bugel tossed Riggo a Hog tee one day, and he was in.
Fred Dean and Doc Walker were usually on scene as well.
Over the first few seasons, Jacoby, Starke, Grimm, May and Bostic would miss a combined total of just ONE game. They hung out together, they ate together, Grimm and Jacoby even roomed together for a few years. More importantly, they became a powerful, cohesive unit that provided big holes for John Riggins and pass protection for Joe Theismann.
The 5 O’Clock Club
The Hogs increased their tightness as members of the 5 O’Clock Club started by the great Vince Lombardi in 1969. The group met after practice in an old tool shed at Redskin Park. It had no plumbing, and no electricity.
There was a kerosene heater over which Riggo would sometimes warm cans of pork and beans. The delicate fare was normally washed down with frothy beverages.
“A lot of problems were solved out there,” Grimm remembers with a chuckle.
That kind of cohesiveness was important on a play they pioneered – the Counter Trey. Bostic, May and Starke would block down or to the left. Grimm and Jacoby would pull and come around the right side. The running back would take a step to the left and then take the handoff going right. Grimm and Jacoby frequently trucked smaller linebackers and defensive backs. It worked many times to the dismay of opponents, and would become their signature play.
Ultimately, it was that developed cohesiveness that allowed Bugel and head coach Joe Gibbs to develop a punishing ball control offense. The Hogs would smash huge holes in the defense and Riggins would run through them.
The 1983 playoffs was when the Hogs really began to dominate. Riggins ran the ball 37 times for 185 yards against Minnesota, 36 times for 140 yards against Dallas in the NFC Championship game, and 38 times for 166 yards against Miami in Super Bowl XVII. An incredible 610 yards in four games to capture Washington’s first Super Bowl.
Super Bowl One
Although Riggins’ performances were spectacular, the Redskins’ offensive line were the ones controlling the trenches. The Hogs paved the way for Joe Gibbs to turn his clock-eating, ball-control offense into the driving force of a Lombardi Trophy.
Against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, The Hogs were instrumental in the most famous play in Washington history.
It was fourth and one to go on the Miami 43 yard line in the fourth quarter. The call was:
“Goal line, goal line. I-left, tight wing, 70 Chip on white.”
Joe Theismann took the snap and handed the ball to Riggins. Jacoby and Grimm, along with h-back Otis Wonsley, opened a huge hole on the left side of the line. The Diesel never looked back.
Riggins hit the hole and took off down the field. He shrugged off cornerback Ron McNeal in an image permanently ingrained in the memories of Washington fans everywhere. It is without a doubt, the most memorable play in franchise history.
With it, Washington were on their way to the first NFL championship for Washington since 1942 – and their first Super Bowl trophy.
The Hogs blocked their way to a Super Bowl record for most team rushing yards, with 276.
Super Bowl Hiccups
The Hogs kept paving highways through defensive lines in 1984 too.
They crushed in the regular season and went 14-2. They rolled easily into Super Bowl XVIII, and were expected to repeat.
Marcus Allen and the Raiders had other ideas. Washington was stunned – and spanked – 38-9.
The period between the 1984 Super Bowl and Washington’s next Super Bowl appearance in 1988, would see some changes to the original Hogs lineup.
Starke and Riggins both retired. That brought about the end of a great era.
Though not actually a charter member, Joe Theismann also retired after his gruesome career-ending broken leg against the New York Giants.
Washington selected a guard out of Tennessee in the ELEVENTH round of the 1985 draft. Raleigh McKenzie was the 290th pick overall.
He would go on to play a decade at virtually every position on the offensive line for Washington.
Super Bowl Two
By 1987, McKenzie was firmly fixed at left guard. Along with originals Jacoby, Grimm, Bostic, and May, who was now at right tackle. The Hogs steamrolled into Super Bowl XXII.
The Hogs were an integral part of both Doug Williams’ MVP performance, and Timmy Smith’s once-in-a-lifetime game. Williams would finish with 340 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Smith would break the Super Bowl rushing record with 204 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
Add it all up and Washington hung an incredible 602 yards on a Broncos team that managed just 327. Most of it, during The Quarter.
Washington also broke the record they had set five years previously, with 280 yards rushing.
And the four original remaining Hogs, had their second Super Bowl ring in six seasons.
The Hogs v2.0
The second generation of The Hogs came from one obvious place and one not so obvious place.
The obvious offensive lineman upgrade happened, when Washington completed one of the best trades in the franchise’s history. Washington’s backup quarterback Jay Schroeder was dealt to the Raiders on opening day of 1988, for their starting left tackle Jim Lachey. There was a conditional pick involved on Washington’s part, but nobody remembers what the pick was, or who the Raiders picked with it.
Lachey was coming off a Pro Bowl season with the San Diego Chargers, but had been dealt to the Raiders over money issues. He came to Washington in his fourth season, and was considered one of, if not the best left tackles in the league at the time.
The Not So Obvious
The not so obvious upgrade came via the 1989 draft. In the tenth round – 263rd overall – Washington drafted a big guard out of the University of Idaho by the name of Mark Schlereth. Stinky as he would eventually be known, was second team all-Big Sky in his senior season, but had GMs known he would play 12 seasons and win 3 Super Bowls (1 for Washington, 2 for Denver), he would have been drafted in the first or second round.
Adding Lachey and Schlereth to a mix that already included Jacoby, Grimm, Bostic, May and McKenzie, made Washington’s offensive line a force.
They were Hogs again.
The Hogs v2.0 put together arguably the best season an offensive line has ever put together. While such a metric is tough to judge across generations, there is no denying the numbers. In 1991, Washington only let quarterback Mark Rypien be sacked SEVEN times in the entire season. Seven. Including the playoffs.
Ryp looked like the second coming of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh that year. Long bomb after long bomb. That was largely due to the fact that he had all day long in the safety of The Hogs pocket.
The unit for most of the season, and that started Super Bowl XXVI was from left-to-right: Lachey, McKenzie, Bostic, Schlereth and Jacoby.
Super Bowl Three
Even before the game, one of the broadcasters noted after a Lachey interview, that normally it was the defensive guys that seemed all hyped up. Lachey and The Hogs went out and spanked the Buffalo Bills and their much heralded defensive line, 37-24.
This time it was Rypien who was the recipient of a well-protected pocket, and a subsequent Super Bowl MVP. He finished with 292 yards and two touchdowns.
Bostic, Grimm, and Jacoby had their third Super Bowl rings.
The End Of The Era(s)
They say all good things must come to an end.
Russ Grimm retired following the Super Bowl XXVI win. He appeared in 140 games for Washington, with 114 starts – but knee injuries had limited him to a back-up role in 1991. He appeared in four straight Pro Bowls (1983-1986) and was a First Team All-Pro three times as well (1983-1985). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Joe Jacoby retired in 1993 after 170 games (148 starts). He appeared in four straight Pro Bowls (1983-1986) and was a First Team All-Pro twice (1983, 1984). He belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Likewise, Jeff Bostic also retired following the 1993 season. He appeared in 184 games (149 starts) for Washington, and went to the Pro Bowl in 1983. He was the only center in NFL history to snap for three Super Bowl wins.
And with that, sadly the era of The Hogs… was over.
Jim Lachey missed the entire 1993 season, and eventually was forced to retire three games into the 1995 season. Lachey played in 131 career games – 86 of them for Washington. He appeared in three Pro Bowls (1987, 1990, 1991) and was a First Team All-Pro three times as well (1989, 1990, 1991). If it weren’t for injuries, he would undoubtedly be in the Hall of Fame. Arguably the most dominant left tackle the game has ever seen.
In addition, Mark Schlereth moved to Denver in 1995. He won two Super Bowls with the Broncos to go with the one he won in Washington. He played in 156 career games – split fairly evenly between Washington (75) and Denver (81). He also eventually appeared in the Pro Bowl for each team – in 1991 for Washington and 1998 for the Broncos.
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