MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

The Hogs, of course, were the great offensive lines for the Washington Redskins from 1982 through 1991 under head coach Joe Gibbs and offensive line coach Joe Bugel that became the foundation of three Super Bowl championships for the franchise and made the offensive line a glamour position for football teams of all levels nationwide.

Not only did the Hogs carry the team to three world titles and another Super Bowl (in which they were butchered by the Los Angeles Raiders) they were likely the greatest offensive line ever assembled and coached over an extended period of time and created a global awareness of the true importance of offensive-line play, making it more than okay for kids everywhere to be an offensive lineman.

Bugel is the man who coined the nickname “Hogs” during a practice in the 1982-83 season and it has stuck to this day, bringing with it such offshoot groups as the Hogettes, a group of Washington area businessmen who would attend games wearing women’s clothing and pig snouts on their noses to root for the Redskins.

No, I have never had an idea why either, but the television cameras loved them and brought them much national attention, which led to the group making hundreds of public and charity appearances through the years and through the decade of the Redskins’ dominance under Gibbs.

On Sunday during pregame ceremonies prior to their home game with the Cleveland Browns, the Washington Commanders (formerly the Redskins) are planning a celebration of the Hogs with special guest Joe Gibbs, who will also serve as honorary captain. Then at halftime, the Hogs will again be recognized along with the introduction of a new team mascot, which has been said to be some form of a dog or a hog, as voted upon by the fans.

That the Hogettes are scheduled to be in attendance as well and take part in the celebration might give us an indication as to which direction this mascot thing is headed.

“We are planning a celebration of the greatest offensive line ever to play the game,” the Commanders organization stated in a Monday press release. “The HOGS are a key part of our franchise’s history and we want to keep their legacy alive with the next generation of fans. We have been working with the Hogs on this event for six months and look forward to welcoming them and Coach Gibbs back.”

Not so fast …

The reason the Commanders released the statement on Monday is some of the former Redskins stars who went by the “Hogs” moniker in the 1980s and early 1990s released their own statement earlier on Monday objecting to the team’s potential use of the nickname without compensation.

The players, former Redskins offensive linemen and “Hogs” Joe Jacoby, Mark May and Fred Dean as well as fullback John Riggins and tight end Rick “Doc” Walker, said in their statement, “The original HOGS have tried to amicably resolve this dispute for many months now but to no avail with the Commanders before the January 1 event. Without substantial control and compensation, the original HOGS do not want to be associated with the Commanders under its current ownership and management and require that their legacy and brand is protected.”

They “do not want to be associated with the Commanders under its current ownership and management …”

Who does?

“The Commanders,” the statement went on to say, “are using the original HOGS brand for commercial purposes with NO compensation to the men (whose) blood & sweat equity built the original HOGS brand 40 years ago.”

Seth Berenzweig, lead attorney for the Hogs group, O-Line Entertainment, told Heather McDonough, of NBC4 in Washington, that this is not a lawsuit — yet. This past summer, his clients filed for a federal trademark of the name “Hogs,” and they believe it will be issued after the new year.

If they receive the trademark and can’t come to an agreement with the team, they could file a Federal Trademark infringement lawsuit.

The attorney says his clients have no issue with the team commemorating the Hogs, but feel the team is trying to take “Hogs” as the mascot, which I am certain it is.

Having never studied law (or much else for that matter), I can’t say for sure, but it seems as though that while the court of public opinion is likely to go the Hogs’ way in this dispute, a real court of law may be inclined to go the way of the Commanders. If, of course, it even gets that far.

It certainly isn’t the greatest look for the original Hogs from some quarters, yet those guys were the goods and did the work playing for a team and an organization that has since been rebranded and was led by different ownership and management that did not run one of the once proud sports franchises into the ground, not to mention through the mud, as current ownership has done from almost the beginning of its reign of terror.

The bottom line is, the Hogs have no interest in being associated with and monopolized by a pig.

Would you?

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT