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'He Made Me Who I Am': Joe Jacoby Remembers Legendary Offensive Line Coach Joe Bugel


It was about 7:15 a.m. on Sunday when Joe Jacoby found out that Joe Bugel had passed away at the age of 80. Jacoby received a text message from former teammate Russ Grimm, who delivered the news in a group chat with some other members of "The Hogs."

"The Hogs," a famous group of Washington offensive linemen in the 1980s and early 1990s, would not have existed if not for Bugel, who served as their position coach from 1981-89. He molded them into one of the NFL's most dominant units, which propelled the Redskins to their first two Super Bowl championships. He also came up with the group's nickname and was even known as "Boss Hog."

Bugel's passing devastated Jacoby -- an undrafted free agent who became a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro under Bugel's tutelage -- but it has also given Jacoby time to reflect on all the great memories he had with his former coach.

Without "Buges," Jacoby knows he would not have been the player he was.

"To think back to all of the memories, what he meant to your life," Jacoby said on "The Kevin Sheehan Show” on Monday. "My life wouldn't have been my life. I wouldn't be sitting here right now if there wasn't a Joe Bugel involved because of his tenacity, his ability to teach and his ability to relate to us. And I'm talking about us, offensive linemen, his specific group that he coached, and he just had a knack about that."

Jacoby first met Bugel in January of 1981 following his senior season at the University of Louisville. Bugel, who had just joined Joe Gibbs' coaching staff in Washington, talked to Jacoby for about 15-20 minutes, explaining what he looked for in offensive linemen. He also laid out the areas Jacoby needed to improve on if he had "interest in playing the National Football League."

In April, Bugel returned to conduct a two-and-a-half hour private workout that Jacoby will never forget.

"I'll tell you what: it was the hardest workout I have ever had," Jacoby told Sheehan. "I mean the man literally kicked my butt. There were so many different drills that we were doing, and I'm going, 'Oh my gosh.'

"After that was over with, I'm going back in the locker room to get cleaned up and stuff, and I'm sitting there in the locker room, and I'm thinking, 'Do I really want to play in the National Football League?' Because I was whooped. This little man, who was about 5-foot-10, kicked my butt up and down that field just by different drills and all that."

Jacoby might have doubted himself, but Bugel saw his potential and urged the Redskins to sign him as an undrafted free agent. And while Gibbs initially thought the 6-foot-7, 295-pounder was a defensive linemen, Jacoby went from the last offensive lineman on the roster at the start of training camp to the starting left tackle during the regular season opener. He went on to make 170 appearances (148 starts) during his 13-year NFL career, and no one was more instrumental than Bugel.

"Joe is who he is," Jacoby said during an interview Monday on 106.7 The Fan’s “Grant and Danny Show. "There was nothing superficial about Joe. Very caring, very tough individual, tough disciplinarian, tough-love coaching. And he made me, he made all of us that first go around -- four rookie starters in that first year -- and that's because of Joe Bugel."

With Bugel leading the way from 1981-89, the Redskins' offensive line propelled the team to three Super Bowls and two victories following the 1982 and 1987 seasons. He also coached five Pro Bowlers during that stretch -- Jacoby, Grimm, Jeff Bostic, Mark May and Jim Lachey -- and the group combined to make 11 Pro Bowl appearances and earn first-team All-Pro honors seven times.

Grimm went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Grimm, Jacoby and Bostic are all in the franchise's Ring of Fame. Chris Samuels, who made four Pro Bowls under Bugel during his second stint with the Redskins from 2004-09, was inducted into the Ring of Fame in 2019.

Former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Bugel passed away Sunday at the age of 80. Coaching under Hall of Fame Head Coach Joe Gibbs from 1981-89, Bugel was the architect of the dominating "Hogs" offensive line that included stalwarts Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Mark May, Jeff Bostic and George Starke.

Jacoby, who went on to coach at both the high school and Division II level, said that much of what he taught his players came from what he learned from Bugel. But make no mistake: Bugel was one of a kind. One moment he was screaming and yelling, Jacoby recalled, and then four or five plays later he was jumping and cheering and celebrating good blocks.

That's just who Bugel was, Jacoby said. He wanted nothing more than to see his players succeed.

"I love the man. He made me who I am. He made me the player who I was. He got the best out of my god-given athletic ability and would not waste it, so I'm very honored."