Season finale could mark end of the line for Bugel
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Only when Joe Bugel walks alone, as he does so often after Washington Redskins practice, do his players see any sign of his 69 years in his face, in his body. They don't think of his age when he is doing pushups as they head back to the locker room. They don't think about it when he is spewing invective in their faces, downgrading their masculinity, reminding them he has spent 32 years in the NFL. And they don't consider it when he is talking about how much he loves them, when he is preaching, as veteran guard Randy Thomas said, "passion, loyalty and friends."
"He's got 10 more years in this game, man," Thomas said.
That is not likely the case. Last month, the Redskins began what could be a monumental transition by hiring Bruce Allen to be their general manager. It's all but certain that Coach Jim Zorn will be replaced sometime after Sunday's season finale at San Diego. And the shakeup will trickle down to the coaching staff, to Bugel, who serves as the Redskins' offensive line coach but has done just about everything during his tenure in the league.
On Friday morning, Bugel was there with the Redskins, wearing a burgundy ski hat and puffy jacket as the team went through its final practice of the season. Will it be Bugel's final practice -- period?
"Buges is tough to wear out," former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said.
Earlier in the week, Bugel declined to talk about his career or his future, saying he didn't think it was the right time. But whether he decides to coach another season or not -- and most people at Redskins Park believe he will retire -- he has left a mammoth impression on the men he coached, most of whom he has cussed at incessantly, then hugged around the neck.
"He's so passionate -- and loyal, man," veteran guard Derrick Dockery said. "He cares a lot about his guys. He'll do anything for his guys."
Becoming one of Bugel's guys, though, can be a difficult process. When the Redskins were considering whether to bring in guard-center Edwin Williams, a Washington native who played at the University of Maryland, as a college free agent, Bugel worked out Williams and talked to him on the phone a few times.
"He's like, 'Hey, stud,' " Williams said. "And I've known about Buges, because I've always been a [Redskins] fan. And I'm like, 'Oh, my God, man, he's calling me stud and horse. He must love me.' I felt so comfortable coming here.
"Then I got here, and I found out he calls everyone 'stud' and 'horse.' And I'm like, okay, maybe I'm not special."
Williams, just like basically every other Bugel pupil, would later be called other names.
"I could tell you," center Casey Rabach said, "but it'd be all bleeps. I mean, he loves to use the F-word a lot."