The Head Hog

This weekend longtime Washington Redskin offensive lineman Russ Grimm will be rightfully inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Grimm will be the first member of the famed “Hogs” offensive line to land in Canton, and the fifth Redskin from the Joe Gibbs era to be enshrined.  As is usually the case with offensive lineman, Grimm’s induction will only be a blip on the radar this weekend.  I don’t think an offensive lineman will ever headline a class in Canton, Ohio, but this year in particular you’ll only hear two names, Jerry Rice and Emmit Smith.  This is not a complaint in anyway because Rice is in most peoples opinion the best wide receiver to ever play the game, and Smith has more rushing yards to his name than anyone who has ever played the game.

I was in Canton two years ago when Art Monk and Darrell Green joined Joe Gibbs and John Riggins as Redskins from my lifetime in the Hall of Fame.  The only thing that would have made that weekend better would have been if Grimm could have joined them, allowing him to take in the reception he would have received from the burgundy and gold tidal wave that crashed in Canton that weekend.  It was such a talked about event in and around Washington DC that weekend compared to this year when all we hear about is a guy who isn’t even practicing.

Between 1982 and 1992 (the most successful 10 year stretch in the franchises history) the Redskins won 3 Super Bowls and played in a 4th.  If I were to guess the most popular players during that glorious era of Redskin football I would guess, in no real order, Art Monk, Darrell Green, and John Riggins.

The parallel here is that while Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Wide Receivers headline games, seasons, era’s, and Hall of Fame classes, guys like Russ Grimm fly under the radar.  It’s fair to say that without guys like Russ Grimm, guys like Riggins, and possibly even Monk wouldn’t have had the careers they did.  Russ Grimm was the leader of the most famous, and in my biased opinion, best collection of offensive lineman ever assembled.  Over a 10 year stretch the Redskins had close to ten all-pro caliber offensive lineman, and they are the main reason Washington DC has 3 Super Bowl trophies.  Grimm is the only one of these “hogs” to make it into Canton so far, but it’s certainly possible he won’t be the last.

As Skins fans now know, it’s hard to have a good season with a bad offensive line.  It’s almost as hard to be bad with a really good offensive line.  These guys rarely get the credit they deserve, the glory goes to the skill positions.  The most obvious example is Mark Rypien, a solid quarterback who became a Super Bowl and league MVP in 1991.  Behind Russ Grimm and the rest of the hogs Rypien was only sacked 9 times during that entire NFL season.  That was not a mistake, 9 times during an entire NFL season.  That same season the Skins had 3 different running backs average over 3 yards a carry.  Back up running back Ricky Ervins 680 yards would have led 9 different teams in rushing that season, and he had about 400 less rushing yards than Earnest Byner did.  Need another example? See Super Bowl 22, and what the o-line did for a guy named Timmy Smith, and how they protected Doug Williams during the air raid on Denver’s defense.

Lineman will never be household names, but they really should be.  I’d bet that tomorrow Emmit Smith thanks his offensive line while giving his speech, and says something like “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those guys”.  He’s not just being nice to teammates, he’s telling the truth.  I’d also bet that Grimm spends some time talking about his fellow hogs, and how they were so instrumental to the teams success.  If you are a Redskins fan that was lucky enough to watch the team play during the 80’s and early 90’s I hope you can appreciate that as great as Riggins was, as great as Monk, Clark, and Sanders were, as well as Theismann, Williams, and Rypien passed the ball, as dominant as Manley, Mann, Butz, and Grant were, and as smooth and clutch as Darrell Green was there wouldn’t be any super bowl victories without names like Jeff Bostic, Mark Schlereth, George Stark, Mark May, Jim Lachey, Raleigh McKenzie, Doc Walker, Don Warren, Ed Simmons, and of course, the leader, and new Hall of Famer, Russ Grimm.

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~ by tuben4 on August 6, 2010.

3 Responses to “The Head Hog”


  2. Joe Jacoby gets no love?

    • Bad editing, I had mentioned him separately in the first draft, but when I took it out I forgot to add him below.

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