Former Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel, architect of the famous Hogs in the 1980s, has died, the team announced in a statement. He was 80 years old.
No cause of death was given.
Bugel spent 32 years in the NFL, but was largely known for his work in Washington, where he led the Redskins’ offensive line from 1981 to 1989. He served as the offensive coordinator and was an assistant coach from 1983 to ’89.
Bugel left to serve as head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals from 1990 to 1993. But he returned to Washington in 2004, when Joe Gibbs returned, and stayed until his retirement after the 2009 season.
The Redskins reached three Super Bowls and won two in the 1980s behind their offensive line. One of his offensive linemen during that period, guard Russ Grimm, is in the Hall of Fame, and another, tackle Joe Jacoby, was a finalist three times. Four of Bugel’s offensive linemen had the Pro Bowl combined 10 times during the 1980s, led by Grimm and Jacoby’s four trips each, and the line helped pave the way for four 1,000-yard runners.
Bugel began calling this group the Pigs in 1982. During a training camp practice, he referred to them as “Pigs” when he told them to head for the blocking sled. The name stayed. Gibbs said to them, “Once you establish a nickname, you’d better endorse it.”
They did it. The Hogs made commercials and posters, and their nickname inspired some Redskins fans to dress up as “Hogettes” during games and charity appearances. They became one of the most famous lines in NFL history.
Bugel once said, while training the Cardinals, that he would be recognized at airports by people screaming, “Hello, there is the Hogs coach!”
“Joe had an incredible passion for the game of soccer,” Gibbs said in a statement. “He came to work every day with great enthusiasm and his players greatly respected him. The strength of our coaching staff on both sides of the ball was a key reason why we were so successful. Bugel was a big part of that and his impact was Not only felt by the Redskins teams, but also throughout the League. I will miss their friendship and always appreciate our nightly arguments to put together the game plan every week. “
Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann tweeted that Bugel “was a friend as much as a coach” and noted that “he will have the best Oline in heaven.”
Joe Bugel was both a friend and a coach. For those of us who had the privilege of meeting him, we were blessed. You will have the best Oline in heaven. RIP Joe
– Joe Theismann (@ Theismann7) June 28, 2020
Bugel coached the Cardinals for four years. He then served as the Oakland Raiders’ primary / offensive assistant coach for two years before becoming a head coach for a season in 1997.
“His accomplishments as one of the truly legendary coaches in our sport speak for themselves. But the first thing I think about is how he lived his life and the kind of quality human being that Joe Bugel was,” said the owner of the Cardinals, Michael Bidwill, in a statement. “We join all who today celebrate his extraordinary life and mourn his passing.”
Bugel coached the San Diego Chargers line for four seasons, and left after the 2001 season, and stopped training until Gibbs returned to Washington.
“I am absolutely devastated by the news of Joe’s passing,” Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “Joe was a bigger than life figure and a true legend of his profession. He exemplified what it meant to be a Redskin with his character and ability to connect with his players along with an unparalleled work ethic.”