Joe Gibbs was the undisputed architect and leader of the Washington franchise during the team's dominance in the 1980s and 90s, but the Hall of Fame coach and winner of three Super Bowls admitted that even he lost control of "The Hogs" from time to time.
It was the NFC Championship during Washington's 1982 Super Bowl run. Gibbs, who directed one of the better offenses in the league, called out an outside run near the end of the game. The Hogs had other plans; they decided to run 50 gut.
They must not have gotten the play call, Gibbs thought, so he calls for an outside run again. Instead, the Hogs decided to run up the middle. They did that five times in a row. It was not until later that Gibbs learned why the Hogs chose to ignore his calls. They were telling Randy White that they were coming for him on every play.
That was the Hogs' mentality. They were going to impose their will on any defense that crossed their path. And because of that, they created one of the greatest legacies in franchise and league history.
"We really do appreciate the Hogs and all they did for those Redskins in those days," Gibbs said.
While there were several players that came and went during Washington's three Super Bowl victories, the Hogs were one of the few constants during the stretch where Washington was considered one of the NFL's powerhouses. Under the direction Joe Bugel, who coined the Hogs' nickname, draft picks and undrafted free agents alike created lanes for legendary running backs like John Riggins and kept the pocket clean for the three different quarterbacks that lifted the Lombardi Trophy for the Burgundy & Gold.
While the run game is what people associate with the run game, and rightly so, Gibbs said the group does not get enough credit for their pass protection.
"They [Washington's quarterbacks] got all the credit for being behind one of the best pass protecting lines that's ever played in the NFL," Gibbs said.
But the Hogs did not care what they were asked to do; they were going to execute, regardless of the circumstances. As Donnie Warren, one of the original Hogs, put it when reflecting on the group's impact, "Opposing defenses knew they would get our best effort for 60 minutes of football every Sunday."
"As a group, we played and excelled for over a decade," Warren said.
The Hogs saw themselves as a family and put their complete faith in each other. Warren said that whenever they would watch film on Mondays after games, no one wanted to be the person that missed a block or let their teammates down.
"We all took tremendous pride in the way we played," Warren said.
Their effort was noticed and appreciated by the Washington fan base, and that led to the creation of the "Hogettes," who could be recognized in the stands with their signature pig snouts.
"We knew they would be there for us every Sunday, giving us their full support," Warren said. "They got creative with their outfits and cheers over the years."
Years later, the Hogs are still one of the most beloved groups in franchise history and still garner adoration for all they helped Washington accomplish in their prime. As the Commanders prepare for their Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns, the Hogs are being honored for those achievements with several alumni set to appear at halftime on the field.
It is just one small way the franchise wants to remind them that their contributions will never be forgotten.