Former Washington Redskins assistant coach Joe Bugel, regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in NFL history, has died. He was 80.
Bugel died on Sunday, according to a statement from the team, which did not disclose a cause of death.
Bugel was the architect of “The Hogs,” the dominant offensive lines that helped lead the team to three Super Bowls under Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs.
Bugel was the team’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 1981-82 and became the assistant head coach in 1983, a role he had until 1989 before becoming the head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals.
He returned for a second stint with the team as assistant head coach-offense from 2004-09.
“Joe had an incredible passion for the game of football. He came to work every day with such great excitement and his players had tremendous respect for him. The strength of our coaching staff on both sides of the ball was a key reason we had so much success,” Gibbs said in a statement.
“Bugel was such a big part of that and his impact was felt not only by those Redskins teams, but truly across the entire league. I will miss his friendship and I will always cherish our late-night arguments putting together the game plan each week. Pat and I will be praying for his wife Brenda, his girls and their entire family.”
With players such as Jeff Bostic, Joe Jacoby and Hall of Famer Russ Grimm on the offensive line, Washington won the Super Bowl after the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons with three different quarterbacks.
Joe Theismann, the QB for the team’s first Super Bowl title, tweeted: “Joe Bugel was a friend as much as a coach. For those of us who had the privilege to know him we were blessed. He’ll have the best Oline in heaven. RIP Joe.”
Bugel was promoted to assistant head coach in 1983, the year the Redskins scored a then-NFL record 541 points. That team reached the Super Bowl, where it lost to the Los Angeles Raiders.
In his first nine years in Washington, Bugel helped the Redskins have four 1,000-yard rushers, one 4,000-yard passer and nine 1,000-yard receivers.
After his first stint in Washington, Bugel was hired by the Cardinals as head coach in 1990. He led the team for four seasons before joining the Oakland Raiders as assistant head coach/offense from 1995-96 and head coach in 1997. He coached the offensive line for the then-San Diego Chargers from 1998-2001.
After a two-year break from coaching, Bugel returned to the Redskins in 2004 as assistant head coach-offense under Gibbs, although his primary job was to work with the offensive line. He stayed on as offensive line coach in 2008 and retired following the 2009 season.
“I am absolutely devastated by the news of Joe’s passing. Joe was a larger-than-life figure and a true legend of his profession,” owner Dan Snyder said in a statement.
“He exemplified what it meant to be a Redskin with his character and ability to connect with his players along with a work ethic that was unmatched. We shared a special bond and he was a great friend.”
Bugel was born on March 10, 1940. A Pittsburgh native, Bugel was a two-way star in football at Munhall High School.
In 2005, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (Western Chapter). Bugel is survived by his wife, Brenda, and daughters Angie and Jennifer. His daughter Holly Bugel died in 2008.
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