Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Russ Grimm, Class of 2010: Justice

Arguably the most under-appreciated position in American sport is the NFL offensive lineman.

The stereotypical offensive lineman, especially in the modern era, fails to make the high-profile magazine cover, is overlooked for the glamourous sponsorship, and is rarely mentioned in the post-game conversation unless he underperformed.

Both Super Bowl QBs were lionized for their performance on Sunday, yet an equally impressive statistic was the offensive lines' combined sack total: one.

Of the 252 pro football hall of famers, just 34 played offensive line exclusively. And on February 6, on his sixth attempt, Russ Grimm, anchor of the legendary "Hogs," deservingly made it 35.

Russell Scott Grimm was a third round draft pick in Joe Gibbs's first season as head coach. He played 11 years for the Redskins and retired after the 1991 Super Bowl season. He was a four-time Pro Bowler (1983-86) and was later named to the NFL 1980's All-Decade Team and the 70 Greatest Redskins.

As a head coach, Grimm was instrumental in the development of Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen in Washington. As the offensive line boss in Pittsburgh, Grimm's unit consistently neared tops in the league and in 2005 he added a fourth Super Bowl ring to his resume. After he was overlooked for the head coaching position in 2007, he left with Ken Whisenhunt for Arizona where he helped transform the Cardinals into an offensive juggernaut.

It's outrageous that it took this long for a Hog to be elected to Canton. Grimm, along with Jeff Bostic, Mark May, George Starke, and Joe Jacoby, led Joe Gibbs's Redskins to four Super Bowl appearances and three titles during the '80s and early '90s.

Therefore, the Hogs are undeniably tied to the successes of Earnest Byner, Gary Clark, Art Monk, Mark Moseley, John Riggins, Mark Rypien, Ricky Sanders, Joe Theismann, Don Warren, Joe Washington, Doug Williams, and recently retired Joe Bugel and Joe Gibbs.

Realistically, the Hogs defined the glory years in Washington, much like Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense defined the 49ers or the Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh.

And realistically, Russ Grimm defined the Hogs.

Fellow Hog George Starke:
"Obviously, everyone knows that Russ is a Hog, but not everyone knows that the name Hogs came from a description of him. He was lying on the ground at the end of a blocking drill and Joe Bugel walked by and Russ had his stomach peeking out of his shirt. Buges said, ‘Man, Russ get up you look like a Hog laying on the ground.’ After that, the rest of us decided to poke fun at Buges and wear white shirts to practice and we all had Hogs written on them. Buges said to us, ‘Why are you doing that?’ We said, Because we are in solidarity with Russ and if you call him a Hog, you have to call us all Hogs.’ That is where the name came from. I think Russ is the greatest guard to ever play pro football. He and Randy White had so many battles and Russ won most of those battles and Randy is in the Hall of Fame. I think it is only fitting that Russ make it in.”

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