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.
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