Jeff Bostic. Russ Grimm. Joe Jacoby. Mark May. Raleigh McKenzie. Ed Simmons. Fred Dean. Ray Brown. Mark Schlereth.
To people of a certain age who didn’t grow up in SEC or Big Eight country, those are the Hogs. They were the group of offensive linemen that helped lead the NFL team from Washington D.C. in the 1980s and early 90s to three Super Bowl wins. Then-offensive coordinator Joe Bugle gave the unit that moniker because that’s how he wanted them to play. Like hogs.
This author first became aware of such a distinction in Super Bowl XXII when Washington dismantled Denver, 42-10. The announcers of that game – Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford – made mention of the line and for obvious reasons, the name given to them stuck with a four-year-old watching his first Super Bowl. Four years later, at Super Bowl XXVI, it felt fancy having awareness of the group when John Madden and Pat Summerall called them by the moniker.
The weird thing is, I grew up just 39 miles from Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and Washington’s were the first Hogs I knew. As I grew older and began traveling across the Oklahoma border to the Natural State more often, the Razorbacks became the team I associated with Hogs. For many Americans, at least those still outside SEC and Big Eight country, the shift may move from Arkansas back to Washington.
Jerry Jones Probably Won’t be Happy
With new owners on board for Washington’s NFL franchise, yet another name appears on the horizon for the club. They currently go by the Commanders, a name that’s only been around for one season after the franchise dropped its previous nickname – a slur toward American Indians (of which this author is one, in full disclosure) – in 2020.
Professional gambling establishments feel so solid on the name change they’re taking bets from the public on what the next one will become. Hogs is, of course, one of them. Well, Hogs and Red Hogs, meaning center Ricky Stromberg, defensive back Kam Curl, defensive tackle John Ridgeway, linebacker De’Jon Harris and running back Jonathan Williams could be Hogs in both college and the pros, assuming they make Washington’s 53-man roster or practice squad.
Arkansas alum and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can’t be thrilled about it. Jones was an offensive lineman for the Razorbacks in the 1960s and co-captain of Arkansas’ 1964 national championship team and he’s given a load of money back to the school, including enough to have his name on the student-athlete success center built in 2015. Jones bought the Cowboys franchise for $140 million in early 1989. The team is now worth an estimated $8 billion. In other words, he has some pull.
Consider, too, that Washington is arguably Dallas’ biggest NFL rival. The two have met 124 times in history, tied for the most the Cowboys have played against any other team (with Philadelphia). Dallas owns a 76-46-2 record against Washington. To this day, again to this author, there is no team in the NFL I’d rather see lose than that franchise in the nation’s capital.
It’d be something Jones would rue, for sure, to see his most hated NFL rival take away from Arkansas the monopoly it currently has in the world of porcine mascot nomenclature in big time sports.
Name Change Possibilities for Washington NFL Team
The odds of that happening are strong. “Red Hogs” has the third best odds, per this particular site, just behind Spartans and “Football Team/Club.” Spartans, by the way, would be a nod to partial-owner Magic Johnson, who played at Michigan State. Washington went by Washington Football Team in the year between the old name and the current one.
The odds the franchise changes names draws -400, while the odds they don’t is +250. Part of the reason Hogs is so highly favored is that the iconic players from that era all wanted nothing to do with previous owner Daniel Snyder. Jacoby, May, Dean, running back John Riggins and tight end Doc Walker requested a trademark on the name in December.
“Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders are trying to profit off the original HOGS legacy by taking that trademark and associated goodwill and brand equity of the original HOGS,” the official statement from the group read. “The Commanders are using the original HOGS brand for commercial purposes with NO compensation to the men who’s blood & sweat equity built the original HOGS brand 40 years ago.”
It’s unclear where the suit currently stands. The new ownership group has an opportunity to build bridges with the former players, something Snyder had no interest in doing, so it’s unlikely they would choose the name without the group’s say so. Former Washington coach Joe Gibbs, the most beloved of the franchise’s former head men, said he was happy with the new ownership group, led by D.C.-area native Josh Harris. Gibbs, by the way, was Arkansas’ running backs coach in 1971 and 1972 before he moved on to the NFL.
Who knows how quickly these things will move. Washington will almost certainly stay as the Commanders for the 2023 season. It’s hard to imagine a branding change being able to take hold so quickly. A name change even next year may be a stretch, what with all the business-end items that would need to be re-worked. Regardless, in Arkansas, there will be just one Hogs.
For everyone else, well, it might be interesting to see how it plays out.
Here’s the full introduction of the new owners of the Washington NFL Team…
More coverage of Arkansas football and the NFL from BoAS…