Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stars and Legends: The Offensive Linemen (continued)

Today we wrap up our look at the best offensive linemen to play the game, with our list of Yesterday's Legends:

The Redskins "Hogs"

The nickname “The Hogs” refers to the offensive line of the Washington Redskins in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The original Hogs were center Jeff Bostic, left guard Russ Grimm, right guard Mark May, left tackle George Starke and right tackle Joe Jacoby.  Tight ends Don Warren and Rick Walker were also considered part of the gang.  With a reputation for dominating at the line of scrimmage, the Hogs were instrumental in the Redskins’ victories in Super Bowls XVII (1983), XXII (1988) and XXVI (1992) under head coach Joe Gibbs.  They inspired a group of fans to form the “Hogettes,” a group of men who sit in the stands dresses in drag and wearing plastic pig noses, a tradition that continues today.  By Super Bowl XXVI, some younger players were on the line and deserve mention as “junior” Hogs:  left tackle Jim Lachey, left guard Raleigh McKenzie and right guard Mark “Stinky” Schlereth.  In August 2010, Russ Grimm was the first of the Hogs to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Dan Dierdorf (Tackle, St. Louis Cardinals):  Dan Dierdorf attended the University of Michigan and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 1971 draft.  Dierdorf enjoyed a two-season streak of allowing no sacks in 1976 and 1977.  As a unit, the Cardinals’ O-line allowed the fewest sacks in NFC for five consecutive seasons.  One of those was the 1975 season, when they only allowed a record-setting eight sacks.  Dierdorf was selected to six Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Larry Allen (Guard, Dallas Cowboys):  From Sonoma State (California), Larry Allen was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the 1994 draft.  Allen is regarded as one of strongest players ever to play, having recorded a bench press of nearly 700 pounds.  He was on the Cowboys’ championship team in Super Bowl XXX and was selected to 11 Pro Bowls, the most of any Cowboys offensive player.  He signed with the San Francisco 49ers for the 2007 season, but signed a contract with Dallas in 2008 so he could retire as a Cowboy.

Art Shell (Tackle, Oakland/LA Raiders):  Art Shell attended Maryland State College (a.k.a. the University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and was drafted by the Raiders in the third round of the 1968 draft.  Missing only five games out of 212, Shell was selected to eight straight Pro Bowls.  He was part of the Raiders’ championships in Super Bowls XI and XV.  After retiring, Art Shell would go on to be the head coach of the Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons; he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Anthony Munoz (Tackle, Cincinnati Bengals):  Anthony Munoz attended the University of Southern California and was drafted third overall in the 1980 draft.  He only missed 4 games in ten years and caught 4 TDs in career.  Munoz received a variety of honors in his career, including an incredible 11 straight Pro Bowls.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, the first Bengal to be enshrined.

Jackie Slater (Tackle, LA Rams):  A Jackson State alum, Jackie Slater was drafted by the Rams in the third round of the 1976 draft.  He is tied for third all-time for most seasons played in the NFL.  In 1983, the Rams’ O-line allowed a league-low 23 sacks and helped running back Eric Dickerson beat the rookie rushing record with 1,808 yards.  Selected to seven Pro Bowls in his career, Slater was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Jonathan Ogden (Tackle, Baltimore Ravens):  Jonathan Ogden attended the University of California Los Angeles and was drafted fourth overall by the Ravens in the 1996 draft.  His career included a victory in Super Bowl XXXV and two 1-yard touchdown passes.  He was selected to an amazing 11 Pro Bowls, one for each season except his rookie year.

Two final thoughts on this look at the best offensive linemen: 

With exception of Larry Allen, everyone on our list stayed with same team throughout his career. 

Many on the players on our list were drafted by their teams in the third round of the draft or sooner.  Some were even drafted in the top five overall.  This shows that, while the offensive linemen might be invisible to the cameras and fans, those who know—the scouts, coaches and team management—realize the true value of these trench warriors.

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