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Holy Cow! Happy Twentieth Birthday To The-Hogs.net!

By Mark Solway | July 14th, 2022

In some ways it is hard to even fathom, but today marks the Twentieth Anniversary of me starting my little area on the internet about the Washington Redskins – now Commanders. I can’t believe it has been twenty years already. It seems like just yesterday. And while my family life doesn’t permit me quite the time that I used to spend on this site, I am extremely proud to have lasted this long.

When I started the site, I was told that the average length of time that “a site like this” would last for, was two years. That has been exceeded ten fold.

20 year badge

The site started when the “Yahoo Mailing List” that I was on, had two guys that were heading to Redskins Training Camp in 2002. It’s sometimes hard to remember how different technology was back then, but the mailing list did not have any functionality to actually post images. It was a text based thread that Washington Redskins commented on.

At the time I was just starting to learn web design, so I offered to help out the two guys. I said I would start a site and post the pictures that they sent to me. There was no such thing as image gallery software back then, so the images would have to be hard-coded into an HTML page but I figured what better way to learn how to build sites, than to have a Redskins model to work towards.

That’s all it took to get started.

Early Days

After camp was over, myself and a couple of other Redskins fans started “blogging” although it didn’t really have that name back then. Not in broad terms anyway. We didn’t have a CMS system to store data on or anything like that – WordPress and the like didn’t even exist yet. I hard coded all the articles into HTML pages and re-created the front page of the site every day. Not a very dynamic solution but that’s the way things were on the web in 2002.

We had a couple of “feature” articles that we started doing weekly – Scooter’s Six Pack (July 29th, 2002), Wingman’s The Cheap Seats, and Sun Tzu: The Art of Coaching. I also wrote generic articles about what was going on with the team. We had a pretty good following from the jump because everyone on that mailing list were checking things out regularly.

F2FA

I also joined a group called the F2FA – the Fan 2 Fan Alliance – which was a group that chose one fan site for every NFL team. That group no longer exists, but I believe a few of the sites still do like GoTitans.

Part of the requirement of being in the F2FA was to have a message board, so I added one to the website. Now we had a means of talking to other fans easily, and that also helped hold the interest of people that came by the site. It grew a fair amount over the first year.

Enough that in 2003, I made the trip down to Washington myself to cover training camp – both with articles and with photos. The articles were pretty well received. That’s really what kicked things off.

I met Scott that year, and he was as eager to put in time making good Redskins content as I was. So our output increased drastically and our numbers kept growing.

I also got to attend my first Redskins event and participate – the Ken Harvey Football Fan Classic. What a day that was. I got to interview some of my favorite Redskin players ever – like Charles Mann, Darryl Grant, Pat Fischer, Art Monk, and Mark Moseley. Photos

Fun Times

I’m not going to go through the entire history of the site – frankly, there are too many things to write about.

I got involved with the Hogettes, I started a weekly catered Tailgate party at Fed Ex, I did podcasts with players like Brandon Lloyd. We also did feature blogs with players like Todd Wade, Andre Carter and Philip Daniels.

We grew and grew and grew. To the point that in 2006, Sports Illustrated ranked this website AHEAD of the official site on where Redskins fans should go online to get team information. Quite the coup. It didn’t seem to make the team very happy either.

Stepping Back

In 2011, I had a son. That changed a lot for me. It cut my time by a lot. That meant less time to work on the site – a lot less time. I still had people helping out and getting some things done, but somehow, there was a noticeable drop in output when I wasn’t leading the charge.

URL Catastrophe

In 2019, an administrative catastrophe cost me my original url. I thought the name had renewed but apparently the credit card information had been on file so long that the expiry date had been surpassed. Just editing the info would have avoided it but I didn’t know until it was too late. And I lost the original thehogs.net address which really scorched me. I thought I was going to give up.

The message board was toast because the PHP version had moved on and the old PHPBB software just wouldn’t work properly. i couldn’t even really contact the former members because many had been members for soooo long that the info on file for them was no longer accurate. Think about it, some of the people on the forums hadn’t given a new email address for 15-16 years. I promise, I tried everything to contact some members of the forum.

On top of that, my original Twitter account got toasted because I couldn’t access the email that was attached to the old internet address.

It was a mess.

Re-Emerged

Instead of giving up though, I bought the current address that the site sits on and set to work getting as much data back online as I could. I had backups of a lot of the stuff but some stuff just couldn’t be salvaged for various reasons.

I decided that while it would likely take a couple of years to not only get the information back online, but get Google to re-spider all of the information – I would do it. That seemed the only way to find some of the hundreds of former patrons that had graced the halls of THN.

So I wrote a fair bit last year – and that helped me get things re-established in Google.

I opened a new Twitter account and started finding old friends – and making new friends.

And while I concede that this place may never be what it once was – it is at least still here – it is moving forward and it is still producing original Washington football content.

My boy is now eleven and he is starting to take interest in the site. He’s even working on a couple of blogs for the upcoming season. He made a wallpaper too.

So maybe one day it will get back to the juggernaut that it once was.

Or maybe the juggernaut was just in my own mind, my own perception.

But you know what, that’s okay too. Because it’s been a source of much joy for me for a long time.

20 years in fact.

Hail to you all.

20 year anniversary

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