Russ Grimm hopes for good news on Hall of Fame voting

Russ Grimm, front, was part of a Washington offensive line that also included -- from left -- Joe Jacoby, George Starke, reserve Fred G. Dean, Mark May and Jeff Bostic.
Russ Grimm, front, was part of a Washington offensive line that also included -- from left -- Joe Jacoby, George Starke, reserve Fred G. Dean, Mark May and Jeff Bostic. (The Washington Post)
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By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 6, 2010

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- The players who formed perhaps the most famous offensive line in football history, the "Hogs" who helped the Washington Redskins reach four Super Bowls and win three of them in the 1980s and early '90s, don't have a single representative in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That's something that could change Saturday when the media members who serve as Hall of Fame voters gather on the day before the Super Bowl for their annual selection meeting. Former Redskins guard Russ Grimm is among a group of finalists headlined by the NFL's career receiving leader, Jerry Rice, and career rushing leader, Emmitt Smith.

Some say the election of one of the Hogs is overdue.

"I'm getting very, very excited about it," former Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel said this week. "It's been a little upsetting to me. That group in the '80s and '90s did such an outstanding job, and there hasn't been one of them that's gotten into the Hall of Fame. Russ Grimm, he was the leader of that group. To me, he's very deserving."

Grimm, now the offensive line coach and assistant head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, played for the Redskins between the 1981 and '91 seasons. He played in four Super Bowls and was elected to four Pro Bowls, and was named to the NFL's all-decade team of the '80s.

The Redskins' Super Bowl-winning teams are represented in the Hall of Fame by Coach Joe Gibbs, running back John Riggins, wide receiver Art Monk and cornerback Darrell Green. But the Hogs were a constant on the championship teams coached by Gibbs, whose three Super Bowl triumphs came with three different quarterbacks.

"It's hard to understand," former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly said. "That offensive line had a great run for a long time. The players changed, but that group was the foundation for four Super Bowl teams. It's hard to believe you can't get one guy into the Hall of Fame."

Grimm has gotten this far in the selection process previously but never has been particularly close to being elected once the list of finalists has been pared by the voters. However, some voters say they believe Grimm's chances might be at least slightly improved this year, given that only Rice and Smith seem to be automatic selections.

One thing that might work against Grimm is that a few voters say they wonder whether Grimm or offensive tackle Joe Jacoby is more deserving. Jacoby isn't an option for the selectors Saturday, though, because he isn't among the finalists.

What's virtually inarguable is that the Hogs grabbed the attention of the football-watching public to a greater degree than just about any other offensive line in memory. Former Redskins offensive lineman Ross Tucker said he remembers watching the Hogs play while he was a kid.

"You'd like to think they'd be represented by at least one guy," Tucker said. "I actually think it's a testament to how good that unit was. Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby might have gone to more Pro Bowls than other guys, but no one person stood out so much over the others. The more I see of the Hall of Fame process, it's really hard to get in. They only let in about five guys a year. But you'd like to think the greatest offensive line ever assembled, they'd let one guy in.

"They had a long run where they were really good. I can't think of a better group during my lifetime, at least. They were dominant. When you watched a game, they made their presence felt. Maybe Joe Bugel is the one who should get in. But I would guess if Russ Grimm gets in, all those guys will feel to some degree like they're represented."

Bugel isn't lobbying for his own election, but he said he would like to savor the enshrinement of one of his former pupils.

"There were a lot of great teams and a lot of great defenses in the NFC East at that time," said Bugel, who retired last month after more than three decades of coaching in the NFL. "I have a lot of pride in what that group accomplished. I have a room in my house with a lot of memorabilia in it, and a lot of it is Hogs stuff. When I get sentimental, I go and sit in there and kind of soak it all in. I would love to see one or two of those guys get in, and it would be great for it to start with Russ Grimm."

Four to seven new Hall of Famers are to be elected Saturday from the group of 15 modern era finalists and seniors committee nominees Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little.

In addition to Grimm, Rice and Smith, the modern era finalists are former coach Don Coryell and former players Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Roger Craig, Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Charles Haley, Rickey Jackson, Cortez Kennedy, John Randle, Andre Reed and Shannon Sharpe.

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