oe Bugel, whose 35-year career in the NFL included one season as the Raiders’ head coach, died Sunday. He was 80.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
Best known for his work as an offensive line coach, especially with the Washington teams that won three Super Bowls, Bugel served as Raiders head coach in 1997, their third season in Oakland after returning from Los Angeles. After a 4-12 season, he was replaced by Jon Gruden, then a 36-year-old unknown.
Bugel had spent the previous two seasons in Oakland as assistant head coach under Mike White. Prior to that, Bugel had been head coach of the Phoenix (now Arizona) Cardinals, where he compiled a 20-44 record in four seasons ending with his firing in 1993.
“Saddened to hear of the passing of legendary coach Joe Bugel,” Raiders Hall of Famer Tim Brown wrote on Twitter. “He was a passionate but soft hearted coach who cared about the players. One of his favorite sayings was, “men, this week’s game is gonna be a Donnybrook”! No more Donnybrooks coach, RIP!!”
Another former Raider, eight-time Pro Bowl guard Steve Wizniewski wrote: “Joe Bugel was the finest line coach in the NFL for decades. He genuinely loved his guys and had your back. Such a great man with a huge heart. Everyday was a workday. 100% blue collar mentality. We love you and miss you Joe! We are better men because we played for you.”
Bugel’s years as an assistant coach, which began in 1975 with the Detroit Lions, were filled with glory. With Washington, he 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 going to Phoenix. 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 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 produce four 1,000-yard rushers, one 4,000-yard passer and nine 1,000-yard receivers.
He coached the offensive line for the then-San Diego Chargers from 1998-2001.
After a two-year break from coaching, Bugel returned to Washington 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. “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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Author: Staff and wire reports