Russ Grimm and the Hogs have a party
Maybe 30 minutes after the Hall of Fame induction ceremony ended on Saturday night, I wandered away from Canton's Fawcett Stadium, wriggled past the line for Jerry Rice's flashy reception, and stumbled directly into your childhood dreams.
At the center of the Russ Grimm after-party was a bar adorned with a large sign reading "5 O'clock Club." In one corner was a huge rendition of the iconic Hogs in Tuxedos poster, which all the offensive linemen eventually autographed. There were huge buckets everywhere filled with ice-cold cans of Bud Light, and towering platters of Redskins-themed chocolate cupcakes. Just about everyone in attendance was wearing some sort of burgundy and gold homage to the '80s.
And as you wandered around the tent, you would run into Joe Theismann and Neal Olkewicz, Joe Jacoby and Jeff Bostic, George Starke and Doc Walker, Donnie Warren and Jim Lachey, Bruce Allen and Bubba Tyer, Art Monk and Darrell Green, Dan Marino and Marcus Allen, Curtis Jordan and Ken Houston, Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel.
"For Redskins fans like me, it's a dream come true, the start of the Hogs getting in," said Daniel Snyder, who hosted the party in Grimm's honor.
I don't want to pretend this event transported me back to my youth; you all know very well that I didn't grow up in D.C., with posters of Hogs on my bedroom walls. But when you see the Washington Post's archives come to life in front of you, see the men themselves step out of the highlight reels and stand in front of you with their arms around each other, maybe you start shivering a little bit, and not because of the temperature of those Bud Lights.
So there's Jacoby, towering over the giggling crowd as Jordan resumes his role as team comedian. There's Grimm, walking around in a beat-up baseball hat, camaraderie leaking out his pores. There's Walker, cigar jutting out of his mouth, and Theismann, hair as glorious as ever.
And oh yeah, there are the Hogs in a tight circle, each raising up a can of adult beverage over the head of the grinning Bugel, and then tipping them back in a group celebration.
"The friendships don't say goodbye, they kind of go on hold, you know?" Lachey said. "Personalities don't change, man, over the years. We had a lot of fun back then and we have a lot of fun now."
"Both of us benefited from being a part of the Redskins organization," Gibbs said. "We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that."
What did his teammates think of Grimm's acceptance speech earlier in the evening?
"I thought it was quintessential Russ," Starke said. "I think for all these guys it's emotional. We're crying in the audience, he's crying on stage. How could you not? It's a very emotional thing."
"I thought his speech was awesome," Bostic said with a straight face. "I mean, he far exceeded what I expected. I thought he'd be up there about three minutes -- hey it's good to be here, thanks for everything -- and then leave.
And what of Grimm's promise to embroider the names of all the Hogs on the inside of his Hall of Fame jacket?
"That's flattering, and fortunately, it looks to be a very big coat, so he should be able to get all the names on it," Bostic said.
"I just hope he gets them spelled correctly," Jacoby cracked. "No, that was a classy move. Playing on the offensive line, you know that feeling, what it all means. Offensive linemen know that. It's a special bond. Russ and I had that. Russ and I, it's almost like brothers."
And indeed, the whole thing had a family reunion vibe, complete with corny group hats and repeated hearty hugs. Grimm thanked Snyder during his acceptance speech, and he did so again at the party, grabbing the owner by the hand and saying "thanks for everything." At some point, the guy with the microphone announced that Grimm would not be signing any more autographs for the night, so that he could kick back and enjoy the celebration. Fans posed for photos by the bust, which looked out over the party from next to the old-school Hogs poster. But even though that statue was just of one guy's head, players said the day represented something more.
"I think everybody feels a little piece of them being in there now," Bostic said.
"This is something you'll never forget the rest of your life," Bugel said, the crevices in his face locked into that giddy grin. "Me personally, being able to introduce Russ Grimm, that's the highlight of my football career. That's the icing on the cake right there. And to have a kind of party like this, to see everybody, how happy they are, this reminds me of the old times."
August 9, 2010; 8:52 AM ET
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