In 1982 a legendary group of Redskins’ offensive lineman were assembled and during a training camp drill, coined ‘The Hogs’ by o-line coach Joe Bugel.
The name caught on with players and fans, giving an otherwise unheralded group the recognition they deserved.
‘The Hogs’ would prove the weight of their nickname was no joke, winning Super Bowls XVII, XXII, and XXVI.
For Ron Saul, one of the original Hogs, a victory over the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII was the perfect ending to a 13-year NFL career. Even though he was injured earlier in the season and had to watch the game from sidelines, he remained a constant presence with the team.
At 6-2, 255 pounds, the grizzled veteran had seen it all. Football was a major part of Ron Saul’s life–and his family’s as well.
Saul had an older brother Bill, who played football and basketball at Penn State. He went on to play nine seasons in the NFL from 1962-1970. During his career, Bill played with the great Johnny Unitas, and became the first player to get mic’d up during a regulation game.
Ron Saul was born on February 5, 1948 in rural Butler, Pennsylvania. His twin brother Rich Saul was another budding football superstar, and the two formed a dynamic duo on the gridiron.
Both played football at Butler High School, following in Bill’s footsteps. Ron was a star fullback, Rich was a star linebacker.
The two made their varsity team as sophomores, and by the end of their senior seasons, they had led Butler High School to a 26-1 record.
They now had to decide where they were going to start the next chapter of their football lives. After countless college visits across the country, the Saul twins settled on the football powerhouse at Michigan State.
Playing on opposite sides of the ball, the Saul brothers sibling rivalry was at its peak.
“Coach Duffy [Daughtery] knew that we would really hit so he would say, ‘OK, I want the two two Sauls out here–let’s show them how to hit,” Ron recalled with a grin. “Of course, I couldn’t let him win and he couldn’t let me win.”
The year before their arrival, Michigan State ended the season ranked No. 2 in the country, but graduated a very talented class. When the Saul twins arrived on campus they were about experience something in football they rarely had before: losing. During their three year career, the Spartans finished with a record of 12-18. Their best season was a 5-5 finish.
While the Saul brother’s did not experience the team success they would have liked at Michigan State, their individual talents did not go unnoticed. The Saul twins became the first duo of brothers to both be named All-Americans in the same season.
As All-American seniors, their NFL future looked bright.
The two entered the 1970 NFL draft, and faced the possibility of not playing on the same team for the first time in their lives. Rich was drafted in the 8th round by the Los Angeles Rams, where he would play for future Redskins’ coach George Allen.
The simple fact that Rich was drafted was amazing to Ron, despite his undeniable talent:
“Rich was tough, he was very, very tough. Rich was the No. 2 linebacker his junior year for the NFL Draft,” Ron said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Rich because he tore his knee up one of the last games of his junior season–he tore every ligament in his knee.
“Both of the doctors said he would never walked without a limp again. Dr. Johnson said, ‘No, I will be able to get him to walk without a limp again, but I can’t say if he will ever play football again.’ He worked his butt off and got to play a couple games his senior season. I have a lot of respect for what he did.”
Obviously, Rich overcame the injury, walked without a limp and played in the NFL for 12 seasons, all with the Rams. A linebacker in college, he converted to an offensive lineman, and became a pretty darn good one. He made six consecutive Pro Bowl’s from 1976-1981.
In 1980, Rich had the honor of calling the coin toss during Super Bowl XIV. That would be the team’s only trip to the Super Bowl during Rich Saul’s tenure in Los Angeles, and resulted ina 31-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Meanwhile, future Redskins’ great Ron Saul was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 5th round. Where his brother was a miracle to be drafted, Ron fell down the draft boards thanks to an incorrect listing of his weight in the school records.
Instead of being listed at his playing weight of 255 pounds, he was listed at 235 pounds, a weight from much earlier in his collegiate career. If he had had the benefit of the NFL Scouting Combine, Ron says he would have gone in the first round of the draft.
“The Houston coach called me and said, ‘Listen, we took you. We had you rated as the top guard, but it was your weight that killed you. If you can’t get up to at least 245 pounds, you’re not going to make it in the NFL.’
“I told him, ‘Well, I’m 255 now.’ And he said, ‘What?'”
Needing help on the offensive line, the Oilers spent their first round draft pick on Doug Wilkerson before taking Saul in the fifth round. By the end of training camp, Saul proved that he was the top talent, winning the starting job while the Oilers placed Wilkerson on injured reserve (despite him lacking a year-ending injury).
Ron spent six seasons as a stellar guard with the Oilers before being traded to the Washington Redskins where he spent the remaining six seasons of his NFL career. Ron won Super Bowl XVII in 1982, and while he did not play for most of that season, the victory was a fitting end to his career.
The Saul twins entered the league during the same draft. They exited the league during the same season.
When they had all retired, the three Saul brothers had certainly left their mark in the NFL, playing 32 years in the league, six Pro Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl trophy.
Tags: bill saul, rich saul, ron saul, washington redskins
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