ASHBURN, Va. -- Joe Bugel gave the Washington Redskins a unique identity.
For much of the NFL's history, offensive linemen were the league's ho-hum, anonymous, oversized worker bees. Then, one day back in the 1980s, Bugel started calling his guys "the Hogs."
The Boss Hog himself retired Wednesday after 32 NFL seasons, an event worthy of a grand, emotional news conference in the Redskins' auditorium.
|Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press|
|Joe Bugel, who turns 70 in March, retired as the Redskins' offensive line coach Wednesday and said he's ready to "live the good life" with his family.|
Eight of Bugel's former players were on hand, as well as one of the "Hogettes" -- that's right, one of those 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," Bugel said, leaving the podium behind and walking to the center of the stage, "to look somebody in the face and tell them you love them."
"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 that Bugel came along.
As the Redskins' offensive line coach from 1981 to 1989, 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 Pro Football 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 then-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.
During his speech Wednesday, 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 become too emotional.
Bugel 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 nearly 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."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press