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Joe Bugel, architect of Washington’s ‘Hogs’ offensive lines, dies at 80

The "Hogs" helped lead Washington to three Super Bowls under Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs.

Former Washington assistant coach Joe Bugel, regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in NFL history and architect of Washington’s dominant “The Hogs” lines, has died. He was 80.

Mr. Bugel died Sunday, said a statement from the team, which did not disclose a cause of death.

Mr. Bugel’s “Hogs” offensive lines helped lead Washington to three Super Bowls under Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs.

Mr. Bugel was the team’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 1981-82 and became the assistant head coach in 1983, a role he had until 1989 before becoming head coach of the then-Phoenix Cardinals.

He returned for a second stint with Washington as assistant head coach-offense from 2004-09.

“Joe had an incredible passion for the game of football,” Gibbs said in a statement. “He came to work every day with such great excitement, and his players had tremendous respect for him. The strength of our coaching staff on both sides of the ball was a key reason we had so much success.

“Bugel was such a big part of that, and his impact was felt not only by those teams but truly across the entire league. I will miss his friendship and I will always cherish our late-night arguments putting together the game plan each week.”

With players such as Jeff Bostic, Joe Jacoby and Hall of Famer Russ Grimm on the offensive line, Washington won the Super Bowl after the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons with three different quarterbacks.

Mr. Bugel was promoted to assistant head coach in 1983, the year Washington scored a then-NFL record 541 points. That team reached the Super Bowl, where it lost to the then-Los Angeles Raiders.

In his first nine years in Washington, Mr. Bugel helped the team have four 1,000-yard rushers, one 4,000-yard passer and nine 1,000-yard receivers.

After his first stint in Washington, Mr. Bugel was hired by the Cardinals as head coach in 1990. He led the team for four seasons before joining the the-Oakland Raiders as assistant head coach/offense from 1995-96 and head coach in 1997. He coached the offensive line for the then-San Diego Chargers from 1998-2001.

After a two-year break from coaching, Mr. Bugel returned to Washington in 2004 as assistant head coach-offense under Gibbs, although his primary job was to work with the offensive line. He stayed on as offensive line coach in 2008 and retired following the 2009 season.

“I am absolutely devastated by the news of Joe’s passing,” Washington owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “Joe was a larger-than-life figure and a true legend of his profession.

“He exemplified what it meant to be a (Washington player) with his character and ability to connect with his players along with a work ethic that was unmatched. We shared a special bond, and he was a great friend.”

Mr. Bugel was born on March 10, 1940. A Pittsburgh native, he was a two-way star in football at Munhall High School.

In 2005, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (Western Chapter). He is survived by his wife, Brenda, and daughters Angie and Jennifer. His daughter Holly Bugel died in 2008.