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  • SOOOOEEEEY; A Hog: What Every Offensive Player Wants to be when He Grows Up

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    The Washington Post
    Sunday, Final Edition

    Eager to hone and polish those skills Hogs sometimes let deteriorate during the long and slovenly hours of the off season, Mark May reported to the Washington Redskins’ camp in Carlisle, Pa., five days early.

    May had been through this hellish strife before, though probably with never as much obvious fervor. He was the first starter of his Hog brethren in a camp of rookie hopefuls, many of whom held their mouths open like starved babes and looked upon the 23-year-old offensive guard in a white, hot storm of rapture.

    “He’s a Hog,” said Nathanial Newton, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound, free-agent guard from Florida A & M. “He’s what all the linemen here in camp want to be. I go to bed thinking about Hogs. I wake up thinking about Hogs. Hogs, Hogs, Hogs. That’s all I think about.”

    Living proof that Hogs are people too, May broke his nose a couple of days later when he crashed into the human wall that was Todd Liebenstein, a defensive end, and returned home to Washington for medical treatment. “See what I get for coming to camp early,” he said. “That’ll show me.”

    Although he won the 1980 Outland Trophy and was the Redskins’ first pick in the 1981 draft, May is best known as one of the rare breed of domestic swine who, by groveling selflessly in the trenches for his team’s greater glory, can now claim with no exaggeration to be a member of the most famous offensive line in football history.

    “They’re so popular, in fact, I may drop out of the Hogs,” said running back John Riggins, the Hog who gained 166 yards on 38 carries in leading the Redskins over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. “They get too much publicity for me . . . even for Theismann.”

    “I know one thing about it,” May said. “People won’t be gunning for us just because we were the Super Bowl champions, but also because we’re the Hogs.”

    Praise for the Hogs extend far beyond the boundaries of the game. On April 19, when Columbia University alumni congregated at the Four Seasons Hotel and presented the John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement to four celebrated honorees, George Starke (BA, ’71) brought the house of black ties and evening gowns to its feet. He set aside the speech he’d spent four days researching and writing, gazed absently into the vast sea of faces and said without pretention, “Ladies and gentlemen. I am Head Hog.”

    With the standing ovation that followed and with everybody from ceremony host Herman Wouk to fellow honoree Joseph Kraft slapping his shoulders and begging for stories of his travail in the ignominous football sty, how could Starke not admit to “feeling good about all the attention, even though it was a little late in getting there. I suspect people, especially those who announce Hogs, from page 21 the games, are starting to realize that football’s not just about quarterbacks and running backs.”

    Traditionally, most professional athletes wear anonymity as comfortably as one might a dense wool cloak in summer. Their play is appreciated only when scrutinized; consequently, the offensive line draws comment only when the ground game fails or the passing game falters under the rush.

    “This Hog image is great,” said center Jeff Bostic. “For so long the offensive line has gone unnoticed. And our line in particular was so young, they really didn’t know the individuals but they knew the group, the Hogs. The nickname’s an identity, and that’s the greatest thing a young offensive line can have.”

    Last season, when Joe Bugel, the Redskins’ offensive line coach, looked across the disheveled practice turf at the prodigious bellies bulging out of center Jeff Bostic’s and guard Russ Grimm’s jerseys, and said, “You guys look like a bunch of hogs,” someone finally gave offensive linemen the chance to shed their cloaks of nonbeing. Hog Bugel had, with that seemingly innocuous appraisal, given an identity and a personality to an entire breed of football player–the offensive lineman.

    “Any time you establish a nickname,” said Bugel, who turned down a head coaching offer last month from the new Pittsburgh franchise of the United States Football League, “you’d better be ready to play, or people’ll rub it right in your face.”

    At 6 foot 2 and 245 pounds, center Jeff Bostic is the smallest of the Hogs. Bostic went to Clemson, as did his brother Joe, a starting guard for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent in 1980 but was released in summer camp and joined the Redskins only six days before the season opener to handle all punt and field goal snaps. His rookie season, Bostic played only on special teams. But when Gibbs and his new staff opened camp in 1981, Bugel admired his feisty, aggressive style and made him a starter.

    “Ever since Joe Gibbs came to Washington I got a chance to prove the kind of ballplayer I was and that I could play,” Bostic said. “It’s been Hog Heaven since he and Bugel came along.”

    Russ Grimm, 24, was a rookie center the year Bostic became a starter and a highly touted third-round draft choice from Pittsburgh. Bostic’s play was exceptional and, when a number of injuries hampered Grimm’s progress, Bugel crossed his fingers and moved him to guard. Grimm adapted quickly and later started next to Joe Jacoby, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound tackle from Louisville who was signed as a free agent in ’81 because of his terrific size.

    Earlier in the year, however, when Jacoby first reported to rookie camp, Gibbs thought he was a defensive tackle and nearly released him when he found out Jacoby played offense. There were already five draft picks and 12 veterans in camp fighting for positions on the offensive line. Jacoby was less than unheralded; he was unknown.

    “I looked like a Hog then, too,” Jacoby said. “A big gut and a taste for beer. We rolled around in the dirt a lot.”

    A few days into the ’81 summer camp, Jacoby’s mother died and he had to leave Carlisle for a week. “It really shook everybody up,” said Grimm, who was rooming with him then in a Dickinson College dormitory. “He was so quiet, such a good guy. We all wanted him to do well. Before he left for home, a bunch of us met in the room and just sat and talked to him. Later on, when he came back, you could tell it was still on his mind. But he played real hard and surprised everybody. He ended up making it.”

    Jacoby not only made it, he started in front of first-round pick May, who was benched after a poor showing at left tackle. “Maybe I was a little more celebrated coming out of college than the other Hogs,” said May, who played right tackle in college, “but I got here and had to bust my tail like everybody else. Sure, I came here with pluses next to my name, but now I’m just part of the machinery like everybody else. I’m just a regular old Hog.”

    To add size and strength to the lineup and to quell the cries of those fans who balked at the notion of the former all-America sitting the bench, Bugel moved May to guard, next to veteran Starke.

    “We were 0-5 at the time, and nothing was going right,” Bugel said. “You not only find out a lot about yourself personally, you find out a lot about your people. Fortunately, we had enough character people that once we got the thing rolling, it snowballed. After we got in the middle of the year, on a seven-or eight-game winning streak, we found guys up front we felt could become permanent fixtures.”

    Which isn’t to say Head Hog was not considered a regular all along. In 1971, the Redskins drafted Starke in the 11th round (272 overall) but traded him to Kansas City during summer camp. He was released a month later and, while waiting for another shot at the NFL, taught math and history at a junior high school in Yonkers, N.Y. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in the off season, released during summer camp and re-signed by the Redskins. Although he spent the 1972 season on the taxi squad, Starke played regularly the next year and was a starter by 1974.

    May calls Starke, 35, “the elder, elder statesman. Our leader.” But as the offensive captain and Head Hog of the Super Bowl XVII champions, Starke claims his responsibility “came naturally with the seniority. I’ve been around a while. A real long while.”

    Of no less consequence to the success of the Hogs was the play of backup tackle Don Laster, and tight ends Don Warren and Rick Walker, who has the distinction of also belonging to the Fun Bunch, the Redskins’ receiving corps.

    Laster is the most recent addition to the Hogs, filling in the tackle position formerly held by Fred Dean, who jumped to the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL for contract guarantees the Redskins would not give him. At a mini-camp team meeting, Laster was inducted into the Hogs when veteran swine Grimm, Stark and Bugel singled him out before reviewing film and awarded him a Hog T-shirt. “I had to go through a whole season of initiation, of paying my dues,” Laster said. “There’s nothing unofficial about it anymore. I’m a Hog, through and through.”

    Last season, a Hog not wearing the T-shirt one day each week was fined $5, the money going to the Boss Hog Fund which covered the cost of a post-season barbecue and beer bust at Bugel’s home. Long before that, however, 10 Hogs went out to a Washington restaurant on the day before a game and ran up an $850 tab. “We were just doing what we do best,” Jacoby said. “We ate a bunch and we drank a bunch.”

    But earning the right to wear the Hog shirt requires more than a beastly, outsized form; a Hog has to possess the heart of a lineman, one willing to crawl on all fours so that many may run.

    When Theismann petititioned for membership in the Hogs after throwing a block in a game last year, the Hogs met in a very private “Hog Caucus” but, determined not to compromise their very nature, turned him down by a unanimous vote. Repeatedly this summer, Theismann has expressed interest in petitioning for another “Hog Caucus” and another shot at being accepted into the famed swine. “Joe? Joe Theismann?” said Bugel. “If Joe expects to become a Hog, he’s really gonna have to do something more exceptional than just pull off one good block a game. That’s not gonna cut it.”

    Starke incorporated the Hogs a few months ago, forming the Super Hogs Inc. He then contracted with a manufacturer to fill the breezeways of RFK Stadium with “official” Hog products –painters’ hats, pennants, T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, etc. Although a few of the Hogs did not contribute to the venture, Starke said he saw the opportunity to “make a little money for the guys. When everybody in Washington was going crazy about the Hogs and buying Hog products, we weren’t incorporated and never got a penny.”

    But each one did receive a $2,000 Weathersby 460s rifle, made for hunting rhinos and elephants, from a grateful Riggins, who said the one silver bullet presented to each Hog was “just to let them shoot it once and see how strong it was. I figured if they were really that tough as Hogs, they could handle the rifles. They’re supposed to be the most powerful guns in the world. And they’re supposed to be the most powerful line in professional football. I thought it was a pretty good match.”

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

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    For the Offensive Line, A Casual Nickname Sows a Hog Happening

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    The Washington Post
    Super Bowl XVII

    Center Jeff Bostic had only to walk through a suburban Virginia shopping mall to realize how Hog wild Washington fans have gone over the Redskins’ offensive line.

    “Everywhere I looked,” he said, “there were Hogs. Hog shirts, Hog banners, Hog pennants, Hog everything. Somebody is making a lot of money off the Hogs. I wish it was me.”

    What began as a spirit builder for the linemen has become a frenzy. Hog souvenirs are the best-selling Redskin novelty items. During the days preceding the NFC championship game with Dallas, a local radio station even played sounds of Hogs grunting. About the only place porkers are more popular is in Arkansas, the home of the Razorbacks.

    “I never dreamed this would happen, but isn’t it great?” said Joe Bugel, the Redskin offensive line coach who first nicknamed his charges the Hogs. “This may be the first time offensive linemen have Hogged the spotlight.”

    Bugel laughed, but he had the right. Hog jokes are in. Anonymity for offensive linemen is out. Bugel’s nickname has made stars of his mudders, money for souvenir vendors and meaty subject matter for headline writers.

    And since when in the NFL, which has seen the Doomsday Defense, the Purple People Eaters and the Fearsome Foursome, has an offensive line been celebrated with a nickname of its own?

    But the Hogs themselves don’t claim celebrity status. The Redskin offensive line is young and good, but not even Bugel is ready to call it the league’s best. The line may be the biggest around (average weight: 270 pounds) but with four second-year starters, there is room for more sophistication and consistency.

    Still, the line is good enough to make John Riggins, 33, feel like a youngster. “I’ve never run behind a better line,” said Riggins, who is finishing one of the finest seasons of his 11-year career. “They are great now, but with more experience they are going to be something.”

    There are 10 Hogs. Seven are offensive linemen (Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Bostic, George Starke, Fred Dean, Mark May, Ron Saul). Two are tight ends (Don Warren, Rick Walker). One is a fullback (Riggins).

    “I wanted in, but they spurned me for two weeks,” Riggins said, tongue in cheek. “When they finally said they’d let me join, I was going to tell them, ‘No thanks.’ But I relented. You don’t want to make your line mad.”

    Ten Hogs in one restaurant can run up a bill of $750 in two hours. They did earlier this season. Bugel did not pick up the check.

    The Hogs got their nickname because Bugel looked at Bostic and Grimm one day last season and decided they were built like Hogs.

    “They are short guys with big bellies,” Bugel said. “I started to say to the whole line at practice, ‘Okay you Hogs, let’s go down in the bullpen and hit those sleds.’ Some guys might have resented it but these guys loved it.”

    Bugel is Boss Hog. When wide receivers or quarterbacks throw effective blocks, they are Piglets. Hogs are selected through a membership vote. Rookie tackle Don Laster wanted to buy an official membership T-shirt, designed by Bugel. He was turned down.

    “We want to keep this exclusive,” Grimm said.

    Bugel’s strategy has served a purpose. It gave an inexperienced line a unifying element. It made the members special. And it put them on the spot. When you’re a Hog, it’s embarrassing to fall face first into the mud unless you are doing a good job.

    As a result, they probably are playing better than should be expected. They have developed an unselfish attitude that has allowed Bugel to move Dean and May in and out of the starting right guard spot without a complaint.

    “Joe has said right from the beginning that a starting berth is earned by the guy who is playing well,” May said. “We all accept that. When Freddy got a chance and played impressively, he deserved a chance to start. That’s why I went to Joe and said not to worry about me, that if he wanted to go with Freddy, he should make the change.”

    Bugel’s attitude is essential to the Hogs. He’s an enthusiastic, fiery, uninhibited type who keeps the group loose. But he’s also a solid coach who believes in a power-blocking, forceful approach to offensive line play. It’s no accident that the Hogs are big. Bugel believes the reworked rules governing pass protection lend themselves best to large, strong players.

    “By the end of every week, he has taken us step by step through what we have to know for the game,” Bostic said. “We are completely prepared because he is so thorough. Then all we have to do is execute.”

    Interestingly, the Hogs’ most talented linemen are two of their smallest members, Grimm and Bostic.

    The Redskins thought so highly of Grimm that they traded away a No. 1 pick mainly to be able to select him in the third round of the 1981 draft. He was projected as a starting center, but when Bostic performed well in the 1981 training camp, Grimm was moved to left guard, in part because Bugel thought he matched up well with Dallas’ Randy White.

    Grimm, a tenacious player, has been the team’s most consistent performer this season. Bostic, called “the Little Doughboy” by his teammates because he looks like the figure in the Pillsbury commercials, is just a shade behind. Considering he was a free agent signed only because of his kick snapping, he has been a major surprise.

    Starke, 34, is the lone veteran, a cerebral performer nearing the end of his career. He shouldn’t be strong enough or big enough to hold up under Bugel’s sytem, but the last two seasons have been among his finest. May is the heir apparent to Starke’s job. He was a No. 1 choice as a tackle, but had difficulties on the left side in 1981; now, Bugel is confident May can be a fine right tackle.

    Jacoby’s 1981 performance, when he eventually replaced May at left tackle, helped get the line through that season with dignity. Jacoby, Grimm’s roommate, is a massive force on run blocking who is becoming better at pass blocking. Once almost painfully shy, he has become much more open this season, although he still can’t match the outgoing Grimm. May is the polished future banker; Starke already has a couple of film businesses; Bostic is the country boy with the dry wit.

    “They really are close to each other,” Bugel said. “It’s something you have to love, getting in the trenches every day. And who would have thought this line would be good enough to play in the Super Bowl?”

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

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    Sports of The Times; Hoggish on the Redskins

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    The New York Times
    Sunday, Late City Final Edition

    JOHN RIGGINS was elected a member of the fraternity of Hogs early this season when he showed he was not afraid to grovel in the earth with his offensive linemen.

    He could win a lot more elections in this city after his utterly hoggish performance in the trough of Robert F. Kennedy Stadium yesterday, when he carried the ball 36 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns as he helped move the Redskins into the Super Bowl wth a 31-17 victory over hated Dallas.

    There was nothing beautiful about Riggins and the other Hogs -nine offensive linemen who make the Redskins go. But even with seven and eight Cowboys bunching up in the middle, Riggins was able to dive and slash and push and crawl his way to 140 yards, behind the broad backs of the Hogs.

    The result thrilled the capital city, where banners hung this week praising the Hogs and vilifying Dallas in about equal proportions. Washingtonians come from everywhere, but except for those Washingtonians from the north end of Texas, they soon learn to hate the sight of the blue-and-silver Cowboy uniform.

    Yesterday was cause for an orgy of emotion among 55,045 fans -with nary a ticket-holder missing -as the old-fashioned burgundy uniforms milled and stomped over the space-age coldness of the Cowboys.

    The Cowboys were the only team to beat the Redskins this season, holding Riggins to 26 yards in a 24-10 victory in the fifth game. They had beaten the Redskins six straight times in their rivalry.

    ”This was an emotional game,” said Joe Jacoby, a typically unheralded member of the Hogs. ”It’s always a little more emotional when we play them.”

    Riggins, a thick and sure-footed 33-year-old back, has played 11 years in the league without playing in a championship game. He said afterward: ”I’m real thrilled with this. To tell you the truth, after the strike I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue the season. I was ready to pack my bags and head for Kansas. Boy, what a mistake that would have been.”

    If he had gone, he would have taken this Super Bowl trip with him. The Redskins have any number of important players, but they would go nowhere without the quiet man from Kansas.

    After the Cowboys’ victory on Dec. 5, ”we decided to play our kind of football, to get more physical,” said Russ Grimm, the left guard. ”We put in a one-to-one system, with Jeff Bostic in the middle going either way.”

    The Redskins were physical the first time they got the ball, down by a field goal. They handed the ball to Riggins, right up the middle.

    ”That first play,” Jacoby said. ”John went right behind us, and it was like a big V-wedge moving ahead. That set the tempo. I knew John could do it.”

    Thereafter, the Redskins just lowered their heads and pushed forward and let Riggins carry it, further justifying his election as a member of the Hogs.

    Of all the honors Riggins may achieve in his career, the one that should mean the most to him is his inclusion in the Hogs. They don’t just go accepting anybody.

    The Hogs wouldn’t accept Joe Theismann, and he’s merely the quarterback of the team. They wouldn’t have Art Monk and Charlie Brown, their leading receivers, and Dexter Manley, a defensive right end who tipped the key interception to Darryl Grant, can’t even get in with his out-of-date Fairfax County deputy sheriff’s badge.

    Grant, who scored the clinching touchdown with an interception, the first touchdown of his career, can’t even get a Hog T-shirt because he was switched from the offensive to the defensive line in summer camp.

    The Hogs are particular, but they voted Riggins into the clan after the second game of the season, when he gained 136 yards in 34 carries against Tampa Bay. Their other members are: Jacoby, George Starke and Donald Laster at tackle; Grimm, Fred Dean and Mark May at guards; Bostic at center, and Rick Walker and Don Warren, the tight ends who commit the rather un-Hoggish act of catching the football but also perform inside blocking.

    ”We’re blue-collar guys all the way,” explained Grimm, the second-year guard. ”If we don’t play football, we don’t have any other job.”

    The Hogs are hard-working types who do their jobs to the beat of the quarterback’s cadence, who block for the quarterback and open holes for Riggins.

    ”Sure, he’s the highest-paid guy on the team,” Grimm said. ”But look at him – army boots and camouflage jacket, a typical bluecollar guy like us. He’s no speedster, he’s not one of those nifty runners. He’s from the old school. John says, ‘You block for me, I’ll get some yards for you.’ ”

    The Hogs like that kind of elemental, nose-in-the-ground talk. Let the receivers have their Fun Bunch Five, jumping in the air in the end zone and doing gymnastics after an aerial touchdown. Hogs don’t jump, they root in the earth.

    The Hogs were not looking for publicity but merely for camaraderie when they formalized their fraternity earlier this season. ”All good offensive lines hang out together,” said Starke, the former Columbia University basketball player.

    They started meeting at May’s house to ”watch television and chug a few beers, stuff like that,” Grimm said. ”We had some T-shirts made up but we wanted to keep it small and private. It was just a way of showing we have a lot of pride as offensive linemen.”

    They have been patched together under an assistant coach, Joe Bugel, as Coach Joe Gibbs and General Manager Bobby Beathard tried to rebuild a franchise without the draft choices that had been traded away in the George Allen era.

    ”We don’t have any all-pro linemen, and Dallas has a lot of allpro linemen,” Starke said. Did that help the Redskins prepare for Dallas? He replied, ”You never need help to get ready for Dallas.” The Redskins won the last three games of 1981 and have won 11 of 12 this year. The Hogs had a lot to do with it, opening room for Riggins to gain 553 yards in nine regular games and 444 more in the three playoff games.

    The public even began paying attention to the linemen who wear their Hog T-shirts to practice one day a week and who fine their forgetful members $5, to be used for a barbecue at the end of the season.

    ”We’re not trying to make a big thing out of it,” Grimm said, looking slightly uncomfortable. ”We don’t have anything for sale. We’re not endorsing anything. We’re just proud of our play.”

    In his quiet way, Riggins was proud to have been chosen for the Hogs. ”John’s the type of guy who is hard to get close to,” Grimm said. ”He doesn’t chatter away. I don’t think he lets people get close to him, but he lets you know if you make a good block. He’s great to play with.”

    Bostic said: ”John’s getting into the downhill side of his career. He’s 8-10 years older than most of us. He never made the Super Bowl when he was with the Jets. I know he wants one.”

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

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    The Redskins’ Offensive Linemen: Roll Out the Pork Barrel

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    The Washington Post
    Sunday, Final Edition

    It always seemed impolite to walk up to a large fellow and say, “You’re a big hog.” Such a gentleman might jump off his Harley and rearrange your teeth. But now, in the Nation’s Capital if nowhere else, it is more than nice to call a dinner guest a hog. Such high flattery might move the guest to rip loose the buttons of his shirt and expose his Redskin jersey with Joe Jacoby’s No. 66.

    That’s because the Redskins’ offensive linemen have named themselves the “Hogs.” They have printed T-shirts with drawings of angry hogs on the chest. These shirts are awarded to Redskins who prove themselves macho porkers able to block superbly. When the Redskins built the longest winning streak in the NFL, the Hogs became famous because, as John Madden once said in praise of offensive linemen, “The route to easy street goes through the sewer.”

    It’s about time someone stood up for offensive linemen, even if the fellows doing the standing up are the offensive linemen. Look at the coaches in the NFL. Of the 28 coaches, 12 were offensive linemen. Vince Lombardi was an offensive lineman at Fordham, one of the Seven Blocks of Granite (more on that later). It’s about time someone dreamed up a catchy name for offensive linemen, even if that name isn’t as scarifying as those the defensive linemen get.

    “The Steel Curtain.”

    “Doomsday I.”

    “Fearsome Foursome.”

    “Doomsday II.”

    “The Purple People Eaters.”

    In these defensive lines, a gentleman who was any good would become “Mean Joe” or “Mad Dog” or “Too Tall.” It is always the defensive men who chew up beer bottles, set their hair on fire and carry sparrows in their mouths. Dick Butkus said the perfect tackle would cause the ball carrier’s head to fall off. Look at the Lite Beer commercials with Butkus, Bubba Smith and Deacon Jones — all defensive monsters.

    Meanwhile, offensive lines with their cool-headed practitioners languish in anonymity and carry such second-class status that when the quarterback in “North Dallas Forty” gets angry in the huddle, what’s he do? He kicks the center out of the game. “One of the Cleveland Browns once told me,” Jerry Kramer wrote, “that if he ever had to go on the lam from the law, he’d become an offensive lineman.”

    Richard Nixon was an offensive lineman.

    Lyndon Johnson said Gerald Ford’s problem was that, while playing center at Michigan, he forgot to wear a helmet. As a guard at Eureka, Ronald Reagan was nobody; then he made a movie as the Gipper carrying the ball and now everyone knows him.

    The sad plight of the unrecognized offensive lineman is made obvious by the ineffectual nicknames coined the few times anyone cared to create one at all. Think about the “Seven Blocks of Granite.” Sounds like a cemetery row. Can a tombstone lead interference on a sweep?

    Or think about the line in front of “The Four Horsemen,” the Notre Dame backfield mounted on noble steeds for publicity photos. The men blocking for this distinguished cavalry were known as “The Seven Mules.” Somewhere this Christmas, a little boy will say, “Gramps, did you play football?” and an old fellow will say, “Yup, I was a Mule.”

    At first, the name “Hogs” seemed inadequate for the Redskins’ young line even though the Encyclopaedia Brittanica reports, “A mature pig has 44 teeth, carries its head low, and eats, drinks and breathes close to the ground.” With the change of a couple words here and there, that’s close to the job description of an NFL lineman.

    Who wants to be a plain ol’ hog? Hogs are born to be tomorrow’s bacon bits in the Roy Rogers fixin’s bar.

    So, trying to be helpful, I wrote that the Hogs were “mean as a barnful of barrows.” A summer on my buddy’s farm taught me that barrows are what you called pigs after the unkindest cut. It happens that barrows, as an agribusinessman pointed out in a letter to the editor, are docile creatures instead of the aggrieved parties we might expect to wake up from such surgery. What I should have said, further research shows, is that the Hogs are “mean as a barnful of sows at farrowing time.”

    Sows? Would we have Russ Grimm walking around with Miss Piggy’s pretty snout on his T-shirt? Miss Piggy in a burgundy and gold gown? That doesn’t have the ring of mythic force you need to face Doomsday II.

    “Hawwggs,” is the way Harvey Martin put it. The rendition by the Cowboys’ defensive end suggested a respect for the Redskins’ linemen with whom he had rooted around for a couple hours last Sunday.

    “Yeah, Hawwwggs,” Martin said again, his voice deep, rumbly and so frightening that a listener figured Harvey must have slopped the hogs once upon a time.

    Until you have slopped hogs, you haven’t lived. You take a can of the week’s garbage–potato peels, coffee grounds, sports sections–and fling it over the fence toward the hogs. This is how those animals earn their name: they come running, oinkety-oink, and dive into the slop, behaving like hogs.

    We city slickers in Atlanta, Ill., pop. 1,300, only ocassionally saw a hog that wasn’t riding a motorcycle. But my wife slopped hogs on her daddy’s farm long enough to know, as Martin seemed to, that a hog can be tough to handle. “Sows are the meanest,” she said. “They’ll roll over on their babies without even caring. Then they’ll eat them. Same thing with all hogs when you slop ’em. If you get in the pen with them, they’ll chase you. Their mouths open like this . . .”

    My wife spread her hands wide enough to chomp down on a two-door Ford.

    ” . . . and if they knock you down, they’ll eat you, too.”

    Hawwwwgggs, yes.

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

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    Some Redskins ‘Hogging’ the Victories

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    The Washington Post
    Saturday, Final Edition

    Joe Bugel, the Washington Redskins’ offensive line coach, looked at center Jeff Bostic and guard Russ Grimm one day last season and decided they were built like hogs.

    “They are short guys with big bellies,” Bugel said. “I started to say to the whole line at practice, ‘Okay you hogs, let’s go down in the bullpen and hit those sleds.’ Some guys might have resented it, but these guys loved it.”

    Now Bugel is Boss Hog. When wide receivers throw effective blocks, they are piglets. And 10 select Redskins are, well, just plain Hogs.

    These Hogs are an exclusive bunch. The only members are starters Grimm, Bostic, tackles Joe Jacoby and George Starke and guard Mark May, reserves Fred Dean and Ron Saul (who is on injured reserve), tight ends Don Warren and Rick Walker and fullback John Riggins, who wasn’t given a Hog T-shirt until last Monday.

    That’s right, the Hogs have their own shirts. Bugel brought them to training camp this summer: a white, burgundy and gold pullover with a picture of a fierce-looking porker between a goal post.

    The Hogs are required to wear the shirts one day each week. It’s a $5 fine if they forget, with the money going to a Boss Hog fund. Bugel, who has $35 so far, will use it to sponsor a Hog Feast at his house after the season.

    “Don Laster (a rookie tackle) wanted to buy a shirt but we wouldn’t sell him one,” Bugel said. “This is an exclusive group. You only get in on a majority vote. Riggo wanted in since this summer but they are tough. They kept saying no but on Monday, at the team meeting, we gave him a shirt. He stood up and put it on immediately and the whole place went wild.”

    Coach Joe Gibbs even has superior Hog credentials (he once coached at Arkansas, land of the Razorback hog) and he can’t get in.

    Bostic: “Being called Hogs is appropriate. We’re always doing a lot of work on the ground in the mud, just like hogs. Besides, this makes us different from everyone else on the team. It’s something to joke about. It’s still a kid’s game, and when you can’t laugh, you better get out.”

    The Hogs are playing impressively this season, even with the eight-week strike layoff. How else could the Redskins have the National Football Conference’s No. 1 passer, No. 1 rusher and No. 2 receiver?

    Prior to last season, the line had been considered a major problem. But Bugel took four virtual rookies, blended in veteran Starke and produced a surprisingly respectable unit that allowed only 30 sacks.

    In the process, he benched May, a No. 1 draft choice, for Jacoby, an obscure rookie free agent who was signed by the Redskins only because of his enormous size (now 6 feet 7, 295 pounds). He also made a guard of Grimm, who had been drafted as a center, and a center of Bostic, who had been signed in 1981 only because of his kick-snapping ability.

    This year, he moved May from tackle, where he had won the Outland Trophy in college, to guard, where he had never played. And he cut Melvin Jones, a starting guard in 1981.

    “When you are grown up, you should have the guts to make decisions,” said Bugel, who tells his players, “It’s either our way or Trailways.”

    “But Joe Gibbs gives us the leeway to decide these things. He told me to run my show and neither one of us is afraid to take a chance. These guys are not the greatest line yet, but they have a chance to be very good. The line I coached with the Houston Oilers had one great athlete, Leon Gray. This one has more. They just need experience.”

    Bugel likes his players big, so the first thing you notice about the Hogs is their size. The line averages 273 pounds, and will get even larger when Starke, who is small for a tackle (260 pounds), retires and is replaced by Laster, 290. Grimm is playing at 270, Bostic 255 and May at 288 after falling to 255 last year.

    “George was never a very good technical player,” Bugel said. “He relied on his athletic ability, but he now could play another four years the way he’s improved,” Bugel said. “Jacoby is the most coachable player I’ve been around. He has great football sense. Grimm makes me bubble all over . . . He’s so sound. He never makes a wrong step.

    “We call May ‘Big Foot’ because he has size-16 feet. He isn’t pretty out there — he’s a slasher — but he makes up for lack of athletic ability by determination. Bostic may become the best center in the league. He’s very, very consistent but he has to be, with all the nose men we face. Fred Dean is our Havlicek. He comes off the bench and never misses a step.”

    A year of intense work in the Redskins’ weight program has made the Hogs strong, which shows up most in the rushing statistics. The Redskins are the NFC’s No. 3 rushing team and No. 4 in total offense, even though Joe Washington, last year’s best runner, has carried only once in three games.

    Just as impressive, the Hogs have been able to sustain long drives late in all three games, either to bring the Redskins from behind or run off valuable time to protect a lead. The team no longer needs to depend on a hit-and-miss passing attack to survive.

    Grimm: “You have to be a little loose in the head to play offensive line, and you have to be able to play with pain. But those drives make it worthwhile. They are giving us confidence, although it’s no sure thing we can do it every time.

    “Besides, if we don’t play well, being a Hog wouldn’t be as much fun. And we always want to have some fun.”

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

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