Redskins, Bills Anticipate Super Sunday
Hogs Provide Incentive for Buffalo's No-Name Line to Rise Above Expectations
Even though he made the Pro Bowl, Mark Schlereth, Washington's right guard, calls himself "a piglet."
That's because in the 10-squareyard pen inhabited by the Redskins' offensive line, Schelerth is still an apprentice Hog.
Buffalo's offensive line has no nickname and nowhere near the tradition of Washington's, whose porcine image has endured through three previous Super Bowls and is storied in the nation's capital in poetry and T-shirt.
Just more fodder for Buffalo's self-imposed inferiority complex as they go into Sunday's Super Bowl against the Redskins.
"It's no accident that Thurman Thomas is the league's MVP; that James Lofton is in the Pro Bowl, that I'm one of the league's leading passers," says Jim Kelly in a tribute to his team's offensive line. "It's the guys up front. They haven't missed a beat and I try to take care of them."
Battle of the Offensive Lines
In fact, Sunday's NFL championship matches what many NFL coaches consider the two best offensive lines in the league, foot soldiers for the league's two most prolific offenses. The Bills' front five helped Buffalo lead the league in rushing; the Redskins' front five (or six, or seven) allowed just nine sacks all year, just one more than the single-season NFL record.
The name guys, of course are the Hogs, given that moniker by offensive line coach Joe Bugel in 1982, when Joe Theismann was the quarterback they protected and John Riggins the guy who ran through the holes they made. They won a Super Bowl in 1982, lost one in 1983, then were part of a third one (with Doug Williams and Tim Smith) in 1987.
But the Hogs endure with four of the originals in their fourth Super Bowl--center Jeff Bostic, left tackle Joe Jacoby, tight end Don Warren and Russ Grimm, once a Pro Bowl guard and now a utility man who played all five positions this season. And in an ironic twist, their line coach in Bugel's place is a former Cardinals coach--Jim Hanifan.
"Guys like Jacoby and Bostic are four years older than I am but they can do everything I can do ." says Jim Lachey, the All-Pro right tackle who arrived in Washington from the Raiders in 1988 in a trade for quarterback Jay Schroeder. "If they can do the things they do, I certainly can."
Buffalo's equivalent to Jacoby, Bostic and Grimm are center Kent Hull, left guard Jim Ritcher and left tackle Will Wohlford, who have played together since 1986. Hull has been an All-Pro two straight years, Wohlford was a Pro Bowler last season and Ritcher made it this season for the first time in his 12-year career.
The other fixture is right tackle Howard Ballard, a 325-pound coming star in his fourth season. John Davis, the right guard for 10 years, injured a knee at midseason and was replaced by 300-pound second-year man Glenn Parker, who missed the AFC title game with a knee injury and is questionable for Sunday.