Joe Bugel enjoys cursing
When I wrote a few minutes ago that the story of Russ Grimm puking a whole hot dog was the best Joe Bugel story, I naturally got several messages disagreeing. There's this other Joe Bugel story, made famous by Bill Simmons, that some readers thought was obviously superior. It was about the Dallas NFC Championship game at RFK:
That game sparked more memories than just about anything. [George] Starke remembered how Bugel had quit smoking that season, but as the game grew closer and closer, he suddenly slipped off the wagon and became a chain-smoking maniac: "All week, Buges had been urging us to keep our composure, stay in control, and then by the third quarter, he's holding up both middle fingers, pointing them across the sideline and telling (Cowboys defensive coach Ernie) Stautner, 'F--- you!!!!!' He was more out of control than anybody!"
There are two elements to this story that make it great. One, the Dallas hatred.
"It was just natural for him, because he's a tough guy from Pittsburgh, he likes a good fight," Starke said on Wednesday, when I asked about Dallas hatred. "You always want to measure yourself against the best. The Cowboys were a good team; beating them was what it was all about."
And I asked Bugel whether that would carry over into retirement.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "You hate the Cowboys. George Allen started that. Cripe, I had to throw away all my cowboy boots coming from Houston. You weren't allowed to wear cowboy boots in here or a [cowboy] hat or anything like that. So, yeah, I got to learn to hate 'em, and I've got a lot of respect for 'em, too."
But the other thing that makes that story great is the "F--- You!!!!" Bugel's particularly colorful style of speaking earned several mentions Wednesday, which I thought were worth repeating. These were all from separate conversations, obviously, but they create sort of a unified whole.
Bugel: "Coming from Pittsburgh, working in the steel mills, hey, we didn't have a great vocabulary, but I knew how to swear. And at that time they weren't swear words, so I carried that over into the NFL. And I remember Woody Hayes telling me, once you get in the NFL, don't change a thing. Coach hard. That's when they love you."
Randy Thomas: "His wife has to have the same mouth. I mean, they have to be compatible, you know what I mean? Just imagine them two at breakfast, beep beep beep, cereal, beep."
Bugel: "I've got hittin' across the face a couple times when I said pass the --- potatoes, you know what I mean? She says 'You're not in Pittsburgh now.' "
Starke: "He'd throw stuff at you, sure. He wouldn't throw stuff at us. He was a very excitable guy. So if you're in a room with him and he's not happy with the play, how we blocked it, he might start throwing things against the wall, so it could rebound and hit us. He would throw film canisters and stuff. He's a very emotional guy."
Raleigh McKenzie: "[He sounded] almost like somebody's bungee jumping and about to hit the floor....What you heard [Wednesday] was basically a PG version of what he's about. Definitely PG."
Bugel: "My vocabulary wasn't real big, you know what I mean? I'll tell you, the guys get a kick out of that. They say Buges has every word in the book, you know what I mean? I'd say that's not swearing, that's just Pittsburgh language."
Thomas: "You've got a beeping system? Just beep beep beep, that type of thing."
McKenzie: "And at the same time he don't want you saying too much, because he'd have his wallet, and he'd say 'Look here, I don't want to hear those words coning out of your mouth. There's a picture in my wallet of my wife and kids in my bock pocket.' I was like, ok?' "
Thomas: "I'm gonna miss that little feisty guy. He is feisty....I've seen it at halftime, believe this. He would get up and say something. You just hope nobody hits him back. He's a fighter. When he talks to some guys you just hope that this guy ain't different, that he won't just hammer him, because buges will really try to drive you with his mouth."
Bugel: "I'm gonna be 70 years old. I'm not getting any younger. But I can still kick some butt."
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