Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel retires
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Joe Bugel knew this day was coming. He had tried preparing a speech, but even then, he'd feel his knees knocking together.
"So I said, 'I'm going straight from the heart, whatever comes out, comes out,' " Bugel said.
When he took the stage Wednesday at Redskins Park to formally announce his retirement, in front of fellow coaches, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and players past and present, he stepped right past the microphone and lectern. Bugel swayed and paced, his emotions dripping off every word.
"There comes a time in a man's life to bow out," said Bugel, 69, "and bow out gracefully."
After 32 years, on his final day as a football coach and as the Redskins' offensive line coach, he touched on the same themes he preached to his players every day: passion, loyalty, friendship. His voice rose and his knees knocked. It was like he was in the locker room one final time.
"Even that speech had me kind of fired up," said Randy Thomas, Bugel's right guard since 2004. "I was like, we going to practice or something?
To clarify, "That's the G-version," said Raleigh McKenzie, a Bugel lineman from 1985 to '94.
A coach with a vocabulary that matches his colorful personality, Bugel's NFL career includes two stints as a head coach and two tours with the Redskins. He was Boss Hog for the mighty and dominant line known as the Hogs, the Redskins' group that bullied opposing defenses in the 1980s. Bugel coached in Washington from 1982 to '89, helping win two Super Bowls. He was lured out of retirement in 2004 when Joe Gibbs returned to coach the Redskins.
"His life was football. He's one of the best teachers," Gibbs said recently.
Gibbs recalled seeing Bugel in the office at 3 o'clock in the morning and being greeted by the same level of enthusiasm he'd see at 3 in the afternoon.
"He'd still be roaring," Gibbs said with a laugh. "You cannot outwork Joe Bugel. Many times we tried."
Bugel was known for punishing his linemen on the field, but defending them fiercely in public. Whether it was a Pro Bowler or a rookie, he pushed them all as far as he could.