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. 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. The guys embraced the nickname and the monnicker 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 Joe Bugel's Hog Feast fund.
The original Hogs were starting tackles Joe Jacoby and George Starke, guards Russ Grimm and Mark May, center Jeff Bostic, and tight ends Don Warren and Rick Walker.
Starke (1973-1984) was the senior member of the squad, having joined Washington in 1972.The rest of the Hogs were relatively new to the team. Bostic (1980-1993) was signed as a long snapper in 1980 after being cut by the Eagles, but was starting at center by the beginning of the 1981 season. He was joined in 1981 by two rookie guards, May (1981-1989) and Grimm (1981-1991). Both May and Grimm were drafted out of Pittsburgh in the 1st and 3rd round respectively (20th & 69th overall).
The final piece of the puzzle, the biggest piece, joined the Redskins that same famed 1981 training camp. A giant rookie free agent from Louisville named Joe Jacoby (1982-1993) 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.
''I was scared and frightened because I didn't know what to expect,'' Jacoby remembers about that first meeting. ''So I didn't want to correct him.''
The rest is history. These five men formed the core of the Hogs. In fact, over the next two seasons, 1982 and 1983, 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.
Riggins campaigned to be a Hog, as did Theismann. "No quarterbacks," said Starke. The Hogs loved John though and he was admitted as an 'Honorary Hog'.
Riggins and his fellow Hogs increased their tightness as members of the 5 O'Clock Club started by Vince Lombardi in 1969. The group met after practice in an old tool shed at Redskin Park. It had no plumbing, 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 what became one of their signature plays, 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, and it worked many times, to the dismay of opponents.
In fact, 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 began to show their brilliance. 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 the franchises first Super Bowl.
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-driving offense into the first of three Super Bowls in less than a decade.
The Hogs kept paving highways through defensive lines in 1984 and rolled easily into Super Bowl XVIII before being upset by the Raiders 38-9.
The period between the 1984 Super Bowl and their next Super Bowl appearance would see many changes to the Hogs. George Starke and John Riggins both retired bringing about the end of a great era. The man who had quarterbacked the Hogs, Joe Theismann, in one of the most gruesome TV highlights of all time, suffered a career ending broken leg.
The Redskins selected a guard out of Tennessee in the 11th round of the 1985 draft. Raleigh McKenzie was the 290th pick overall, but he would go on to play a decade at virtually every position on the offensive line for the Redskins. By 1987, McKenzie was firmly afixed at left guard. Along with Jacoby, Grimm, Bostic, and May, the Hogs steamrolled into Super Bowl XXII.Back to Top