- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

Joe Bugel said all he wanted was to do was talk a little football with some old friends and enjoy a chance to rekindle some happy memories. What he didn’t want to do was cause a ruckus.

“I am not a disruptive guy,” he said.

But Bugel unwittingly created a stir when he showed up at Redskin Park a little more than two weeks ago, invited by owner Dan Snyder to lend some advice to his troubled football team.

“It all started with a phone call from Mr. Snyder,” said Bugel, the respected former assistant who coached the Hogs offensive line under Joe Gibbs from 1981 to 1989. “He said, ‘Would you mind flying here? I’d like to meet you.’ I’ve been a Redskin all my life. The old saying is true. Once a Redskin, always a Redskin.

“I had hoped we could just sit around and talk. I never met Steve Spurrier, but I have some friends on the staff, and if they wanted to chat I’d be happy to do that. I didn’t have all the answers.”

Bugel said he was not paid by Snyder and was disturbed by a newspaper story that reported he was hired by the Redskins as a consultant. The story quickly spread, along with the news that Foge Fazio also had been hired as a consultant although Fazio already was on the payroll as a special assistant for personnel.

“That was bad,” Bugel said. “I was made to feel like an outsider [by the stories]. When Dan asked me to meet him, I thought that was a great gesture on his part. I never knew it would create such a fuss. … There was so much coverage that I took a job, but that wasn’t the case. I came as a friend, not to take a job. I came to say hello to some people. I felt maybe I could get a chance to meet the coaches because they had a bye week.”

Bugel said he arrived at about 10 p.m. the night after the Redskins’ Oct.19 loss to Buffalo, drove to Redskin Park and watched tape until nearly 2:30 a.m. He showed up about 9 the next morning, but not until taking a wrong turn and ending up in Tysons Corner.

“I was all over the joint,” he said. Someone who recognized him pointed Bugel in the right direction.

After watching more tape the next day (he viewed the entire Redskins season), Bugel met with Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, the vice president of football operations. He also ran into an old friend, former longtime Redskins trainer, Bubba Tyer. “We had a couple of big hugs,” Bugel said.

Bugel discussed his observations with Snyder and Cerrato but makes it clear he did not file a report. Then he left without meeting with any of the coaches.

“I think they had a lot of work to do,” he said. Bugel said he would not specifically discuss what he talked about, out of respect for Snyder.

“A lot of it was technical,” he said. “I don’t want to get much more into it. It’s kind of a friendship thing, a private thing.”

When he returned to Arizona, Bugel finally spoke with Spurrier.

“We had a great conversation,” Bugel said. “I respect the guy. I really do.”

Bugel said he watched the Redskins lose to Dallas last Sunday, a game in which quarterback Patrick Ramsey (“he’s tough”) was sacked four times and again blitzed into submission.

“If you’re not good at picking up the blitz, the other team can’t wait to get on the airplane to play you,” Bugel said.

Bugel said coaching with the Redskins was the best job he ever had. He left in 1990 to become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, where he lasted four years. He also was the Oakland Raiders’ coach in 1997.

He said he loves living in Arizona and playing golf (he returned to the course just this week after knee replacement surgery in January). Last winter, he said, two teams contacted him about a job, but he didn’t want to move. Still, at 63, he would not rule out returning to the NFL.

“I miss the grunt work more than anything,” he said. “I loved getting dirty on the field, my nose running, their nose running. It was a great time.”


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