Russ Grimm elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 7, 2010; A01

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- Russ Grimm, who as a member of the "Hogs" in the glory days of the Washington Redskins helped redefine the role of the offensive lineman from obscure grunt to the heart and soul of a modern pro football offense, was elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Grimm was one of the proud, lunch-pail linemen who were the engine behind the high-powered offenses of Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs that won three Super Bowls in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Hogs are celebrated to this day at FedEx Field by fans who call themselves Hogettes and wear plastic pig noses and dresses to games.

Grimm was chosen for enshrinement on the eve of Super Bowl XLIV and is part of a Hall of Fame class that includes wide receiver Jerry Rice and running back Emmitt Smith. Both Rice, the National Football League's career receiving leader, and Smith, the all-time leading rusher, compiled the kind of gaudy statistics that ensured election in their first year of eligibility. For Grimm, 50, success came in his 14th year.

"I was elated, and I was also relieved," Grimm said in a telephone interview Saturday night from Arizona. "It's been like a 50-50 deal for me for a few years now. I wanted to get in and people would bring it up, but you want to keep an even keel about it so it's not a big letdown for everyone if you don't make it."

The results of the voting -- conducted during an approximately seven-hour meeting Saturday involving media members who serve as Hall of Fame selectors -- were announced at an early-evening news conference at the Super Bowl media center.

"I'm so excited for him," former Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. "That's big time. It's long overdue. The guy paid his dues. This is great for the Hogs. That group set a standard for what offensive line play in the NFL should be."

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 straight Pro Bowls between the 1983 and '86 seasons. Grimm also was selected to the NFL's all-decade team of the 1980s.

Grimm, also a former offensive line coach for the Redskins, said his two oldest sons watched the announcement with him in Arizona. He said his thoughts turned to his former Hogs teammates.

"My boys were out here watching it with me," said Grimm, who was scheduled to take a red-eye flight to the Miami area Saturday night. "When they announced it, there was some elation and a bunch of high-fives. Then they said, 'We're going fishing,' and that was it. I guess that's what happens when you spend all those years not making a big deal about it.

"It's one of those things where I know I didn't get to this point by myself. I tell that to people all the time. I was lucky enough to be drafted by a team with a new head coach that was giving young guys a chance to play. I was fortunate to play with great players, and we had to live up to that nickname they gave us when we got to our first Super Bowl. This is about all the success we had there."

The Redskins teams that reached four Super Bowls and won three of them between the 1982-83 and 1991-92 seasons under Gibbs already were represented in the Hall of Fame by Gibbs, running back John Riggins, wide receiver Art Monk and cornerback Darrell Green.

But there had been growing sentiment among voters that a member of the Hogs deserved to be in enshrined in the Canton, Ohio, museum as well, given that those offensive lines were the foundation of the Redskins teams that won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. Bugel and other observers said in recent days that the election of one of the Hogs to the Hall of Fame was overdue.

"It was a tear-jerker, man," Bugel, who retired as the Redskins' offensive line coach on Jan. 14, said by telephone Saturday. "I love the guy. It's gonna be a lot of fun in Canton."

Fun and hijinks were always high on the Hogs' agenda. "Grimmie!" Rick "Doc" Walker, a tight end on those teams, yelled when he heard the news. "Grimy. He had so many nicknames. I'm so happy for him. Russ was not only an elite player, he was that rare cross between Hell's Angel and football player."

Grimm and offensive tackle Joe Jacoby were two mainstays on the Hogs, whose members, if not their antics, changed over the years. The group is credited by many observers with elevating public awareness to the nuances and importance of offensive-line play in the NFL, and some have called the Hogs the greatest groups of blockers in the history of the sport.

"I'm thrilled for Russ," Gibbs said in a written statement released by the Redskins. "He is very deserving. He was a big part of our success and our three Super Bowl championships. He was a versatile performer that could play center, guard and tackle and was a great leader. He is a great addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I know there are a lot of Redskins fans that are very happy right now and I'm sure many of them will be in Canton this summer to cheer him on."

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a written statement: "Our Redskins fans have always appreciated the Hogs. This is a long deserved honor and we are proud to have Russ as a member of the Hall of Fame. Hopefully Russ is the first of the Hogs to be inducted in Canton representing one of the greatest offensive lines in NFL history."

Also chosen for the Hall on Saturday were Rickey Jackson, John Randle, Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little. They will be inducted Aug. 7 in Canton [see story, D3].

Jacoby called it "a great moment" and said: "It's a start. It's long overdue. I'm really happy for him. August 7 is going to be a great day. I'll be sittin' up there in the stands, yellin' and screamin' for him."

Staff writer Mike Wise contributed to this report.

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