Glory-days offensive line coach Bugel passes

By BEN GOSS

Joe Bugel, widely recognized as one of the greatest offensive line coaches in pro football history, passed away yesterday at age 80.

Probably most noted for his two stints with the Washington Redskins, Bugel’s offensive lines helped the Oilers reach the pinnacle of their NFL existence in the late-70s.

The Pittsburgh native and Western Kentucky alumnus coached football for 45 seasons, 34 of which were as an NFL assistant or head coach.

Bugel joined the Houston Oilers in 1977 after his two NFL break-in seasons with the Detroit Lions.

During his four seasons with the Oilers, the team set franchise records in rushing and passing.

His offensive line played an instrumental role in the Oilers’ 1979 playoff upset over the San Diego Chargers, led by Dan Fouts.

Minus star running back Earl Campbell, Bugel’s line, led by All-Pro tackle Leon Gray, made one-playoff-game heroes of Rob Carpenter, Ronnie Coleman, Gifford Neilsen and Boobie Clark, propelling Houston to within one game of a Super Bowl appearance.

Ben Goss is the founder and publisher of the Miss Ya Blue! Media outlet, part of his Red Seat Strategy conglomerate, along with his Long Ball City baseball brand. The Mississippi native has been a college professor for more than 20 years and teaches in the area of sport business, something he did as a child before he knew it was an industry or field of study. Among the highlights of his life and career are publishing a baseball card newsletter in fourth grade before Beckett’s did, building an entire cardboard multipurpose domed stadium in sixth grade, perfect scores on every paper he ever wrote on the Boston Celtics in high school and college, sports editor of his middle school and high school newspapers, part-time sportswriter for his hometown newspaper, associate sports editor of his college newspaper (the only journalism minor to hold an editorial position at that time), serving as a color commentator for two college baseball teams and an arena football team, and adopting a pit bull that had been rescued from euthanization.

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