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Choppin' Wood

It's hard to talk to Joe Bugel and not get a little worked up. The guy has a vest for life and a love of football that is palpable. Lure him in with a question about a pancake block or some related to smashmouth football, and watch him go. You'll be cracking up in no time. The sentences start coming faster and faster. Sound effects start punctuating every other clause (he once feigned throwing up to connote the team's offensive woes early in Joe Gibbs's first season back in DC). And, before it's all said and done, you'll walk away with plenty new words to add to your football vocabulary.

Bugel has a way of seemingly making things up as he goes along, yet somehow it all makes sense. Tuesday night he held court with the media for the first time this training camp, and at one point I could have sworn he called Jon Jansen a "witch doctor." Normally, a coach referring to a tackle in that respect would be odd. With Bugel, we figured somehow it would make sense. I turned to a reporter next to me to see if he heard the same thing I did. This guy thought Bugel had called Jansen a "witch chopper." Again, we were a little confused, but, hey, it's Bugel.

Turns out he actually called Jansen a "woodchopper," which I hadn't really heard before, either. It was definitely a compliment and refers to the veteran's physical prowess and how it can manifest from his temper (Bugel was smart enough not actually have anyone chop wook in the locker room, however, which can't be said for certain people in Jackonville). Jansen had a rough morning practice, was beat in some one-on-one drills, and ended up scrapping with a rookie at the end of that session. Don't mess with a woodchopper.

Bugel generally gets pretty animated, and at one point Tuesday, when asked about the NFL's crackdown on holding, the hands starting flying. His hands started reaching out, mimicking the grabbing motion, and he lunged toward to belly of one media member while explaining the technique he espouses. "We like to go for the meat," he said. All the while, a group of fans were screaming Bugel's name, saluting him throughout the impromptu press conference. Twice the coach stopped, flashed a devilish smile, and made sure the guys carrying the pens and notebooks heard the chorus of cheers.

"Make sure you get that in writing," Bugel said. "All of my cousins are here. I paid them to come."

Bugel is about as down to earth as they get in this business, and he's not afraid to call out players and admit deficiencies, either, something fewer and fewer coaches seem able to do these days. He'll stand up for his offensive line behind closed doors as well, and is clearly in their corner. Buges will go in there and fight for us," Jansen said. "He'll fight for protecting us and fight for keeping us healthy. And when you see a coach do that, you'll do anything for him"

Bugel has an honest streak that cannot be denied. He's not afraid to delve into controversy when need be, and, oftentimes, I get the sense he's taking a hit for Gibbs, saying things his long-time friend perhaps could not bring himself to say given his position and personality, but perhaps need to be said, doing so with the betterment of the team in his heart. Sometimes, too, Bugel admits he wishes he had phrased things differently (he went on LaVar at one point last year), and he knows he can get a little carried away, but that's part of his charm.

He's blue-collar through and through, with no airs, just a hard-working, approachable Pittsburgh guy. I'd love to see him back in his old neighborhood, sitting in some corner bar with a kielbasa in one hand and an Iron City beer in the other. Someone at the NFL should keep him wired at all times. They could make a heck of an NFL Films special just out of what comes out of his mouth on any given Sunday.


Not much to report from camp today, since practice does not begin until 7. Brunell says he will definitely be participating, but if for any reason he's not, and this calf thing is remotely serious - which I highly, highly, doubt - we'll let you know.


By Jason La Canfora  |  August 9, 2006; 2:54 PM ET
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Hi Jason, Thanks for the posts! I can't imagine how you manage to do this blog every day in addition to your regular pieces. I hope they're paying you by the word.

Just wanted to post a technical matter. It's been kind of challenging to find the link to your blog in the maze that is Please pass along to your editors that it would be great if they could add this blog to the pull-down menu on the front page or provide a link from the sidebar of the redskins articles.


Posted by: Jonathan in Brooklyn | August 9, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

i agree with jonathan, had to go searching for the blog today. it seems to be listed on the front page and easy to find right after you update, but then later on it disappears and can only be found after searching. also in regards to a comment on your last post count me as a vote for the blog to continue. it definitely gives a different side to the players and coaches than we get from the normal coverage. keep up the funny stories!

Posted by: katie | August 9, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

How much wook can a wook chop chop if a wook chop could chop wook. Oh well, it must be a Jackonville thing.

Just kidding. I really enjoy the blog and I've always liked your feature articles. There was quite a bit of surgery done on the O-line. Do they all look fully recovered?

Posted by: John in Bluemont | August 9, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jason, I agree with the first two posts: this blog can be hard to find on the site.

A couple of questions: I just finished watching Gibbs' press conference from yesterday on Redskins.comTV. What was the reference to Cooley's fashion statement?

Also, it's hard to find any footage (either audio or video) online of Buges in action. Do you know of or have any?

Hope this blog continues throughout the season!

Posted by: Aaron | August 9, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

About Cooley's fashion statement...from the blog:
"Chris Cooley, back in black? The Redskins' third-year tight end is wearing black socks pulled all the way up, black shorts and a black shirt underneath his white Redskins jersey. 5:20 p.m. ET"

Yeah, I guess you had to be there.

Posted by: P Diddy | August 9, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Update from yesterday's erroneous post that Randle-El was on the cover of the new Eastern brochure. Turns out Randle-El is the coverboy for Auto Select, or some such other competitor to Eastern. We might have a coup by some up and comer -- will cheesy but great tv commercials follow? Perhaps Eastern will be fine with the boys from the U.

and I also had difficulty finding the blog this morning. in fact, I couldn't. even a permanant link from the Redskins page would be nice. but I don't see why the eds dont' think this should be on the front page all day every day. it is football season, after all.

Posted by: At Eastern Motors | August 9, 2006 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again for the comments, guys and gals. You rock.
The technical stuff is way over my head, but I have passed it on and I hope it gets taken care of. If not, please let me know and I'll go to bat for you guys like Bugs taking up for Derrick Dockery in a personnel meeting.

Anywho, I'm not making a penny off this bloggy. Was asked to do it, had a blast with the World Cup blog, and was glad to try it again. My editors seem inclined to keep it as a training-camp only thing for now, but feel free to your voice your opinions and email away. Like I said yesterday, I am open to doing it through the season if demand is there.

As for Cooley, he's been wearing whay appears to be a black polo shirt under his pads, and was rocking these high, black socks yesterday. Just Cooley being Cooley.

Sad news on the Eastern Motors front. But if it is competition, and these new dudes put soem TV ads out, that should only bring out the best. I only hope this doesn't end up dividing the team, you know the Eastern Motors guys vs. the Auto Select posse. Wouldn't that be tragic?

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | August 9, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Demand is definitely there! Blog all season! The demand for Cooley News is insatiable.

How is Lloyd's rap career going? Maybe he should do a podcast.

Posted by: P Diddy | August 9, 2006 11:21 PM | Report abuse

The post needs to get with the times. I read Roch around the clock on and enjoy the access he provides to the O's on a more personal level then what u read in the paper. Keep up the good work JLa

Posted by: boogie | August 9, 2006 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Hi Jason
Fabulous story on Bugel - can't help but like him. Please keep up the good work.

Maybe you can get a daily sound byte from Bugs? Is their a Bugel Fan Club anywhere? Being an old hog myself, I was thrilled when Bugel came back with Joe. Danny boy hit a grand slam home run bringing them back.

BTW - who do we let know we would enjoy your witty humor blogging all season long? Would this mean free sideline passes for you? Need someone to hold your clipboard? I volunteer. Maybe by the mid season Danny *will* have your number on his speed dial.

You rock!

Posted by: X Hog | August 10, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Hello all, sorry aboutthe delayed response. Glad you're enjoying the blog. It's been a little difficult to post at a set time this week - I've been pretty busy - so thanks for putting up with me. Sorry the blog is so hard to find, I hope they fix that.
Anyway, as for voicing your opinions ont he blog to the powers that be, I'll put it this way. my email is, and our sports editor's name is Emilio Garcia-Ruis, so if you apply that sme email formula to his name, you could probably reach him (hint, hint).

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | August 11, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

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