Given his luck with Cards, Bugel isn't cursing in jest Name-calling was routine as Redskin

October 02, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- Wide receiver Gary Clark still has fond memories of the days when Joe Bugel was Boss Hog of the Washington Redskins.

Bugel was officially the offensive line coach, but, as Clark puts it, "he coached everybody."

Bugel was quick to speak up when he didn't think the player met his standards.

"He called me so many names," Clark said. "He's my kind of guy. One time, he called me a gutless c . [I said], 'You can call me a c ,but don't call me gutless.' That's one thing I'm not," Clark said.

Bugel, who's now in his third year as the head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals, is preparing for Sunday's game against the Redskins at Sun Devil Stadium. He said he has fond memories of his time with the Redskins.

"I don't know if those days will ever come back," Bugel said. "I think when I was there, we used to get after those guys and call them a lot of ugly names and they just practiced hard.

"I think the days of that are over. You have to treat the players a little differently. I think that group was very, very, very special and I think that's why they've been to the Super Bowls."

Asked to describe Clark's reaction to the name-calling, Bugel said, "He gritted his teeth. I've got to love that little rascal. The one thing about him is he can aggravate you, but on Sunday, I don't think anybody plays the game harder. Sometimes, he's a pain in the neck. Like your kids, you have to smack them across the head, but on Sundays, he's the very best."

On Sundays, Bugel's Cardinals have struggled. His record is 0-3 this year, 9-26 in three years and Phoenix has lost 11 straight since beating the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 20, 1991.

The schedule is brutal. The three teams that have beaten Phoenix -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys -- are 9-1. The next five opponents are the Redskins, the New York Giants, the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia a second time and the San Francisco 49ers.

It didn't help that ESPN reported two weeks ago that if Bugel lost to the Cowboys, he was going to lose his job.

He kept his job even though the Cardinals lost. But the report made matters worse.

His parents, who are in their 80s, saw the report and Bugel said, "They're walking around with hives right now. It affects your family. And I think it affects your preparation. I think it really affected our football team. I think it was poor timing and

in poor taste."

Bugel said he's had nothing but support from owner Bill Bidwill and general manager Larry Wilson. They know he's been hampered by the fact that his quarterback, Timm Rosenbach, was injured all last year and is hurt again this year.

"I know we're on the right course now," Bugel said. "I never worried about a job and I never will. The owner has never called me in and said, 'Hey, if you don't win, you're going to get fired this week, next week or when the season's over.' He's a good man. He pats me on the back and the general manager is behind me. As long as the players keep playing, I don't think we have anything to worry about."

It's easy to say Bugel wanted to be a head coach in the worst way, and he got his wish. But Bugel hasn't lost his enthusiasm for the job.

"I'm really enjoying myself," he said. "You hate to lose, don't get me wrong. We're trying to do everything we can to win in the worst way. But we're not panicking. We believe in certain things and we're sticking with it."

Clark, who is not noted for being patient, suggests the Cardinals be patient with Bugel.

"You've just got to give him a little bit of time," Clark said.

Since Bugel is the team's third head coach since 1986, he just hopes he gets enough time.

NOTES: The Redskins have won seven straight against Phoenix, 14 of the past 15 and 19 of the past 21. But their last loss came in their fourth game in Phoenix in 1988, the last time they were the defending champions. . . . Overall, the Redskins have won 20 of their last 24 regular-season games and 24 of their last 29 including the playoffs.

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