Former Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel, architect of the famed Hogs in the 1980s, has died, the team announced in a statement. He was 80.
No cause of death was given.
Bugel spent 32 years in the NFL but was largely known for his work in Washington, where he coached the Redskins’ offensive line from 1981 to 1989. He served as offensive coordinator and was an assistant head 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 their offensive linemen during that stretch, 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 made the Pro Bowl a combined 10 times during the ’80s, led by Grimm and Jacoby’s four trips apiece, and the line helped pave the way for four 1,000-yard rushers.
Bugel started calling this group the Hogs in 1982. During a training camp practice, he referred them as “Hogs” when telling them to head to the blocking sled. The name stuck. Gibbs told them, “Once you establish a nickname, you’d better back it up.”
They did. The Hogs did commercials and posters, and their moniker 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 coaching the Cardinals, that he would get recognized in airports by people shouting, “Hey, there’s the Hogs coach!”
“Joe had an incredible passion for the game of football,” Gibbs said in a statement. “He came to work every day with such great excitement and his players had tremendous respect for him. The strength of our coaching staff on both sides of the ball was a key reason we had so much success. Bugel was such a big part of that and his impact was felt not only by those Redskins’ teams, but truly across the entire League. I will miss his friendship and I will always cherish our late-night arguments putting together the game plan each week.”
Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann tweeted that Bugel “was a friend as much as a coach” and noted that “he’ll have the best Oline in heaven.”
Joe Bugel was a friend as much as a coach. For those of us who had the privilege to know him we were blessed. He’ll 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’ assistant head coach/offense for two years before becoming head coach for one season in 1997.
“His accomplishments as one of our sport’s truly legendary coaches speak for themselves. But the first thing I think of is how he lived his life and the kind of quality human being Joe Bugel was,” Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “We join all of those who today celebrate his remarkable life and mourn his passing.”
Bugel coached the San Diego Chargers’ line for four seasons, leaving after the 2001 campaign, and was out of coaching until Gibbs returned in Washington.
“I am absolutely devastated by the news of Joe’s passing,” Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “Joe was a larger 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 a work ethic that was unmatched.”