The Hogettes — the male superfans in floral prints, pig snouts, blond wigs and floppy hats — were joining RFK Stadium, Joe Gibbs and single-bar face masks in the NFL history books.
Torbert, 67, is a longtime nuclear waste engineer for the Department of Energy. In the fall of 1983, he borrowed his grandma’s white polka-dot dress and persuaded 10 buddies to join him at RFK. This was when the Redskins were built around a stout offensive line — the Hogs — which Torbert thought deserved more attention.
The Redskins would dominate the NFL for much of the next decade, and the rising tide lifted all snouts. The Hogettes became staples on television broadcasts and in newspaper photographs. There were high-profile TV commercials for local car dealers and for a national credit card company, an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s “Hall of Fans.”
“Thirty years of guys in pig snouts and dresses is probably enough for any society,” Torbert said on Friday, echoing a statement posted on the group’s Web site. “It’s a new era. It was great seeing RGIII and Alfred Morris break onto the scene, and it’s a perfect time to retire the old era and start the new.”
This being a new era, of course, word of Torbert’s decision leaked on Facebook before the Hogettes had managed one final group meeting. So Torbert then went public with the news, while at least some of the 13 active members were still trying to persuade him to stage a final farewell season.
“I told him, in writing and in passing, people are gonna miss us more than you think, and if we have to go, we should offer a hug first,” said Eddie “Hog Ed” Souder of Laurel, at 47 years old the group’s youngest member. “I’d like to tell everybody out there one more time, take a chance, do something for somebody a little less fortunate. But he is our leader; I won’t make a move without his blessing. He is the Hogettes. We all feel that way.”
The Hogettes this season had 13 active members (including four originals). There also are 14 “Missing Links” and one is deceased.
They forged relationships with players and made up to 100 appearances a year. Torbert said the group helped raise millions of dollars for children’s charities.
“The things they were able to do for the children’s charities that they were involved with, it was just outstanding. I salute them,” said former Redskins offensive lineman Joe Jacoby, a member of the Hogs. “[One day] we looked and there they were, right behind our bench at RFK. You’re looking around, and they continued to grow. I thought rabbits were the ones that multiplied; I didn’t know it was pigs.”
As the Hogs gradually retired and the Redskins’ fortunes sank, the Hogettes became something of an anomaly, hearkening back to the good old days. Now there were teenaged fans at FedEx Field who had never seen the Hogs play, and younger kids who had never even been inside RFK. But this season’s resurgence, some Hogettes said, helped bring back the good times.