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Joe Bugel Loves Football Violence

Bugel coaching during minicamp. (By Joel Richardson - TWP)

When Joe Bugel was a kid, he used to imagine himself as Jim Brown. But later, when it became clear that he wasn't a skill guy, he changed both his position and his role model. He even traded in his No. 65 jersey for a No. 70, in honor of Sam Huff, the Giants and Redskins linebacker. Why Huff?

"He was mean as a snake," Bugel said.

Bugel's obviously attracted a good bit of attention this month, as the Redskins' offensive line has struggled with injuries and changing personnel. I don't think anyone says he's mean as a snake, and I'm not sure whether Bugel is having fun, exactly. But the 69-year old coach definitely had that glint after Saturday's opening scrimmage, the glint of a man who just saw several tons of manflesh slamming into the ground, and who liked it.

"That first hit, I feel great," he said, after full-contact tackling had finally returned. "That's the big explosion right there, you know what I mean? That puts you on a high. Pro football's always been the sport for me. After 32 years, I love to watch the competitiveness, the explosion, the blocking, the tackles. That's my turn on, that's my entertainment: violence."

The quote surprised me. It didn't surprise his players.

"That's why he's been doing this job so long: he flat-out loves it, violence," Fred Smoot said, without a hint of surprise. "I'm talking about good violence, legal violence. He loves to see his guys get after guys, and he loves seeing guys get after his guys. That makes 'em better. You got to love a coach like that."

See, we're not talking about street fights. We're not talking about cheap shots. It's more about brute strength and clean hits, sanctioned violence and sanctioned bruises. And just about everyone associated with the Redskins knows that this is Bugel's thing.

"Violent, smart, physical are really what his three turn-ons are," Colt Brennan said.

"He gets thoroughly excited by hitting," Chris Cooley added.

"That man's always had a screw loose, always," Mike Sellers said. "You have to be. You've got to deal with 1,500 hundred pounds of linemen, you have to tell them what to do, and he only weighs not even a quarter of what they weigh. It takes a strong man, and he's that man. That man is a tough SOB."

Physically tough, too. Bugel is forever doing push-ups around Redskins Park; "I can say he probably does a thousand a day," Chris Samuels said. ("The only reason he can get a thousand, he only goes like a half-an-inch down and then back up," Samuels added.)

So does this mean he could handle, say, a 60-year old man in a scrap?

"He'd kill 'em," Samuels said, speaking metaphorically. "He'd probably kill a 50-year old guy. He's tough. He's got old-man strength. He's so intense, he's tough and he never lets up."

I asked Bugel about the toughest Redskins, and while he didn't want to mention any names, he said there were several that "could jack you up pretty good." And I asked him about the noticeable lack of nicknames for his recent offensive lines. Modern players, he said, don't seem to rally behind such labels any more.

"I think they just want to be a Redskin and let's leave it at that," he said, before allowing that "it might surface again."

"Maybe after we go and dominate this year then he'll give us a nickname," Samuels said. "Maybe we'll be the Dominators or something."

As for Bugel, Baltimore is next, which means even more violence, with many more people watching this time. He'll be nervous before the game, just like he was before Saturday's scrimmage. The same thing happens with Greg Blache, Bugel said, even when it's just intrasquad. You want your players to do well, and you want your schemes to work, and you don't want anyone to get hurt, so your stomach starts churning.

"I still get butterflies," Bugel told me. "I get a little nauseated, so I know I'm on the right track."

Right track?

"When you lose that," he said, "it's time to retire."

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 11, 2009; 4:46 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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blog posts about Joe Bugel being turned on by football violence are my turn on.


Posted by: nattaboy | August 11, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Love that guy (Bugel).

Posted by: kjhealey | August 11, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Love me some Boss Hog love)! Great interview. Kick the sh** out of the Ravens. Hail!!

Posted by: Smiley2 | August 11, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Why does Randy Thomas have his jersey tied up like a bikini?

Posted by: fushezzi | August 12, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Enough can't be said about Bugel resurrecting Samuels's career after the Spurrier debacle.

Posted by: peterandmeredith | August 12, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

No former or current Redskin is more deserving of the HOF than Joe Bugel. It's a national disgrace that he wasn't inducted long ago. He is more overdue than Monk was. Yeah, I said it.

Posted by: Barno1 | August 12, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

BUGEL IS THE MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: SkinsOsHokies | August 12, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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