Russ Grimm is King Hog, the Redskins' best offensive lineman, the man opening many of those gaping running holes for John Riggins. That alone makes him special.
But Grimm is unusual for another reason.
"A throwback," is how Bobby Beathard, the general manager of the Redskins, describes him.
"There's no facade with him," says Joe Bugel, the offensive line coach. "He's just a real man."
Grimm doesn't read stock reports. He doesn't wear ties. He doesn't yearn to be a business conglomerate. He's comfortable with a six-pack and a fishing rod. He's refreshing and candid, a man who truly is earning his living by playing his hobby.
This is vintage Russ Grimm:
"I'm more your construction-type worker. Just work outside, have a few hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch, go back and work for a few more hours, pick up your lunch box, go to a bar for a few beers and then go home and get something to eat. I don't think I'd ever be comfortable working nine to five and wearing a tie . . . I'd go crazy."
"I went to college to play football, that's it. To me, if you aren't going to college to be a doctor or a dentist or a businessman, in a professional field like those, why go? The only reason I went to class is they told me I had to take so many to be eligible . . . I never went to class my senior year. When they told me I was on probation, I quit and waited for the draft."
"A lot of guys play because they say it is a business. I might start taking that approach in the future, but right now I play because it is fun and if you get paid for it, fine. The money is nice on the side, but I always looked at football as a sport. When it comes to a point where I have to drag in here every day like I'm just putting in time, I'll get out.
"When I retire, you'll probably see me along side the road somewhere, working construction or digging ditches for someone. I'll be happy."
Grimm worked in construction for two summers while attending the University of Pittsburgh. He once fell 30 feet from a scaffold, cut his arm badly enough to require 19 stitches--and was back on the job in an hour.
Now, he is playing with two stress fractures in one leg and a banged up knee. He had two arthroscopic operations last season, missed two games and then played out the schedule with a knee so badly damaged that it needed major surgery.
"Bumps and bruises," he said, "are something you expect. It's going to take an awful lot to keep me out of a game."
Bugel: "He's a legit player. He's going to be all-pro one of these days. He should have been this year . . .He's been magnificent all season, along with Jeff Bostic. He has such good football sense. He gets the total picture the first time you tell him, period. And he can adjust on the move, which really takes talent. You don't have to pep him up.
"I was talking to him the other day about playoff money. He said, 'Coach, the money goes so fast. I just want to enjoy the game.' "
The Redskins picked Grimm on the third round of the 1981 draft. Beathard thought so highly of his ability as a center that he traded the Redskins' 1982 No. 1 choice mainly to get that No. 3 selection. But instead of being Washington's center for years to come, Grimm has been a starting left guard from the first game of his rookie year.
"He matches up with Randy White, that's why," said Bugel, who moved Grimm to guard after Bostic proved he was a bona fide NFL center. "We needed a matchup against guys in our division, people like White. You have to look down the road like that."
Grimm had never played guard until the 1981 training camp. And he was hurt so frequently during the summer that he had about a quarter's worth of experience at that position before playing against White in the opening game. But all-pro tackle White didn't embarrassed him that afternoon in RFK.
Even in high school, Grimm got used to unusual position changes. His senior year, he was a 205-pound middle linebacker and quarterback who wore a full bird's cage mask and neck brace on offense. Woody Hayes sat in his living room and asked him to play quarterback at Ohio State, but he decided he'd rather be a linebacker at Pittsburgh. Three years into his college career, he was an undersized center who hated the position so much at first his parents had to talk him out of transferring.
"I remember one of the first times I played center in a game," Grimm said. "I was nervous and I just wanted to get the ball snapped. So we get up to the line and the quarterback calls an audible. I'm trying to remember that and I forget the snap count. I wondered what I was doing.
"I forget who said it, but I always remember one thing about being on the line: what better satisfaction is there than to move a man from one spot to another against his will?"
Middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz, who has a sore knee that will require arthroscopic surgery in the offseason, did not have contact yesterday. But he and Coach Joe Gibbs said he will be ready Saturday . . .
Kick returner Mike Nelms , who has a bruised thigh, went through a light, no-contact workout, but is expected to play Saturday. . . Guard Fred Dean has a bruised thigh. If he can't start, he'll be replaced by Mark May, who lost his spot to Dean last week . . . Receiver Virgil Seay has resumed practice on a limited basis after recovering from a sore hip. And halfback Clarence Harmon, who played only special teams last week, practiced fully yesterday.