Jeff Bostic Remembers Grimm, Whisenhunt and the Hogs
"My brother played for the Cardinals for 11 years," Jeff Bostic told me this morning. "They were horrible. There were two things we knew, you were gonna pay taxes and beat the Cardinals. My poor brother languished out in the organization for 11 years....He calls me after the NFC Championship, 'How about those Cardinals!' And I'm like, 'Yeah, they had to take two Redskins guys to get your organization straightened out.' "
Rim shot. But it's true, huh? And Bostic clearly takes pride that the golden years of the Redskins remain golden for its stars. As you might have guessed, I called Bostic to get a few thoughts on Russ Grimm and his coaching career. He had plenty.
"I don't think anybody's surprised by Russ coaching in the NFL," Bostic said. "He was a good football mind. He was kind of what I would describe as a player-coach on the field, and I think a lot of us were. If you were to look at a guy like [Joe] Jacoby or myself or Jim Lachey, you had guys that had good football minds. It was just more a matter of were you gonna be willing to dedicate that amount of time to the coaching profession? It's very time-possessive."
Bostic said the rise of Ken Whisenhunt--another ex-teammate--caught him by surprise, but that you could look at a guy like Grimm and think to yourself, yeah, that's a future NFL coach. I asked him how long it took to realize that.
"Three or four years into him playing," Bostic said. "Football mentality is the world I would use. He had it, Donnie Warren had it. [Grimm] had a football IQ, a high football IQ. You get smarter the more you hang around people that are smart. Jacoby could coach at whatever level he wanted to. Donnie Warren could coach. I could coach. I mean, you're given these gifts, and it's just a matter of do I want to pursue 'em."
As for Whisenhunt, Bostic told a tale about when he left the Redskins once after being claimed on waivers, and was replaced by Terry Orr. Washington went on to win the Super Bowl. And all the linemen and tight ends gathered after the season for their annual golfing trip to Myrtle Beach.
"Whisenhunt was like, 'T.O., where's my ring?' " Bostic told me. "Terry Orr's like, 'I don't know where yours is, mine's at home.' "
And sure, there were more Grimm stories. Way more stories. I asked Bostic if he had any favorites.
"Probably none that I should tell you," he said. "You know, it's amazing how much you learn about a person when you play beside them as much as Russ and I did. He was continually throwing up in the huddle. I mean, he threw up on me and Jacoby's shoes more than I even care to remember. You just came to expect it."
How often would he vomit?
"Depended on how many times he had to pull," Bostic said.
There were also stories of golf trips, and Hogs Night Out, and the 5 O'Clock Club, things that would have been etched in my memory had I grown up in Rockville instead of Buffalo.
"You've got to go read some articles, you're too young," Bostic said. "We had a little thing called the 5 O'Clock Club. We'd sit there and solve a lot of problems with a 12-ounce can."
"We had two favorite brands," Bostic said. "Cold, and Free."
Membership was strictly monitored, with the regulars including John Riggins, the tight ends, the offensive linemen, and a few D-linemen, like Dave Butz. They would meet after practice in an old shed at the Park, allowing them to wait out traffic and to partake in liquid refreshment.
"We had no heat," Bostic said. "It was pretty barbaric. There weren't any decorations. We finally broke down and bought a space heater. I mean, we'd set out there for a while. It got to the point where we had hats, letter jackets. We got pretty big. When Pat Summerall and John Madden know about it, I would say it had arrived. Before the NFC Championship game in January of '83, I guess either Madden or Summerall or both, they went out there and had a few cold ones. Didn't even make it down to interview the Dallas Cowboys at the hotel. And Riggins didn't make it to the team meeting. It's not football as you see it now, how about that?"
They would discuss non-football things; Grimm, Bostic said, was "a big problem-solver back then." And they would discuss the Redskins: the game plans, the roster, the good eggs, the bad ones.
"I mean, Gibbs used to say this all the time, the toughest job I have each year is picking the right 53 people -- They may fool me, but they won't fool you,' " Bostic remembered. "He said, 'If I pick the wrong people, you guys will get rid of them, you'll bring it to light,' and a lot of that was true. Now, with so much money up front, organizations are sitting with their hands tied behind their back, they can't get rid of anybody because of the cap number. When we were playing, if somebody looked like they weren't gonna work out, 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick, they were cut. Not after two years; the first year. It's just a different game they're playing in right now."
Indeed, there are too many differences between today's game and the glory years to recount, and Bostic understands the natural progression of thing, but he still marveled at the number of teammates he had for 10 or 12 or 14 years, and the friendships that could be formed.
"And obviously, the players are benefiting from the ability to shop their wares and see what their market value is, but the people who end up getting hurt by this thing are the fans," Bostic said. "The biggest thing you can have early in the season is a roster."
Back in the day, the longtime teammates held The Roommates Open, a golf tournament between Jacoby and Grimm on one side, and Warren and Bostic on the other. Winners got a little pewter cup.
"Donnie and I were typically the winners of that, almost annually," Bostic said.
Bostic still has Redskins memories all over his house; "more Hogs stuff than you could shake a stick at," he said. Sure, there are the licensed posters, but there are also the homemade tributes from fans. The coconut with a hog painting on it. The Super Bowl XXVI airplane made out of a Coke can. The ceramic big hog with little piglets painted with Redskins names and jersey numbers.
But the guys are scattered all over the country, so they don't get together much. Grimm is in Arizona. Lachey is in Ohio. Warren and Jacoby are in Virginia. Bostic is in Georgia. Mark May and Mark Schlereth are media stars. Bostic did a card show a few weeks ago with Ricky Sanders and Mark Rypien and Timmy Smith, and he wishes everyone were in better touch.
He's talked to Grimm a few times this season--"You've got to understand one thing about Russ, he ain't real good about returning people's phone calls," Bostic said--and he left him a message after the Cardinals clinched their Super Bowl berth.
"Congratulations and good luck," Bostic said on his phone. "You've been there. Make us proud."
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