Boss "Hog" Bugel Hangs Up His Whistle

Redskins offensive line coach retires

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Joe Bugel

    The legendary leader of the original "Hogs" retired Wednesday.

    Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel stepped down after more than three decades in the NFL.

    For much of the NFL's history, offensive linemen were the league's ho-hum, anonymous, oversized worker bees.

    Boss Hog Retires From NFL

    [DC] Boss Hog Retires From NFL
    Joe Bugel retired from the Redskins after 32 years as a coach in the NFL.

    Then one day in the 1980s, Bugel started calling his guys "the Hogs."

    Eight of Bugel's former players were on hand for Wednesday's news conference in the Redskins auditorium, as well as one of the "Hogettes" the male Redskins fans who dress in women's clothes and pig snouts. The guest of honor gave a 10-minute speech without notes that could make even the most sedate couch potato want to get up and play for him.

    "Never be ashamed," said Bugel, leaving the podium behind and walking to the center of the stage, "to look somebody in the face and tell them you love them."

    Bugel said it's "tough to walk away" and that he was asked to stay by new coach Mike Shanahan, but Bugel turns 70 in March and is ready to spend time with his family.

    "It's time for the Buges to go in a different direction," Bugel said. "I don't know how long the Lord's going to keep me around, but I've got two real nice places. I'm anxious to see my house out (in Phoenix) -- I know my wife redecorated it. ... We're going to live the good life."

    Linemen everywhere are glad he came along. As the Redskins offensive line coach from 1981-89, Bugel improbably made his players into league-wide stars. Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Mark May, Jeff Bostic, George Starke and others were a dominant force -- although none has made the Hall of Fame. Washington won two of its three Super Bowls titles while Bugel was on coach Joe Gibbs' staff.

    "The Hogs made it so that offensive linemen make money, too," Starke said. "The game was always about the quarterback, the running back or the receivers. No one ever talked about the offensive line before the Hogs. The Hogs were the first offensive line ever to take over a game all by themselves. Didn't matter who the quarterback was. Didn't matter who the running back was.

    "It changed how people look at football. So now everybody knows you've got to have a good offensive line."

    Bugel later became a head coach with the Phoenix Cardinals and Oakland Raiders. He retired for two years but returned to Washington to coach the offensive line in 2004 when Gibbs returned to the NFL.

    Despite Bugel's reputation as an offensive line genius, that unit struggled in recent seasons, particularly in 2009, when a rash of injuries had the Redskins juggling players on and off the line throughout the season.

    During his speech, Bugel showed off his shiny Super Bowl ring and said his only regret that was he didn't win another one during his second stint with the Redskins. He slapped his thigh with his right hand to try to stop his knees from shaking so he wouldn't get too emotional.

    He had many stories to tell, and most of them revolved around his tough-love approach. The players in attendance said the speech was a G-rated version of what they heard in the locker room.

    "I'm not an easy guy to get along with," Bugel said. "I don't have a big vocabulary. I have every swear word you want to know."

    Bugel's wife and two daughters await him in Phoenix. Another daughter, Holly, died almost two years ago at age 36 after a long battle with a rare form of bone cancer.

    "When she passed, my wife said 'Keep coaching, that's what she'd want you to do,'" Bugel said. "I miss her. That's why I walk around the field after each practice. I still talk to her. She's still part of the family. I love her dearly."