Three “Hogs” offensive linemen and two of their former Washington teammates are threatening to sue the Commanders over the team’s potential use of the nickname as its mascot.
Ahead of Sunday’s mascot reveal — either a hog or a dog, as voted by the fans — some of the former Redskins stars who went by the “Hogs” moniker in the 1980s and early 1990s released a statement Monday objecting to the team’s potential use of the nickname without compensation.
The players — former Redskins offensive linemen and “Hogs” Joe Jacoby, Mark May and Fred Dean as well as fullback John Riggins and tight end Rick “Doc” Walker — said in the statement that they “do not want to be associated with the Commanders.” Hogs was the nickname given to Washington’s dominant offensive line that helped lead the Redskins to three Super Bowls.
“The Commanders are using the original HOGS brand for commercial purposes with NO compensation to the men [whose] blood & sweat equity built the original HOGS brand 40 years ago,” the players said in a statement through attorney Seth Berenzweig.
Berenzweig told The Washington Times that the group has not filed a lawsuit against the Commanders and owner Dan Snyder. However, if the team does reveal the hog as its mascot Sunday without reaching a settlement with the players, Berenzweig said that will “force” the group to file a lawsuit against the team early next year.
“This is not yet a formal lawsuit, but it may end up as a lawsuit,” Berenzweig said.
“They’re just running into a collision course with their own legends, which I think should make the fans pretty furious,” he added.
Other Hogs and former Washington stars are still expected to attend the celebration Sunday during the Commanders’ home game against the Cleveland Browns — a contest with massive playoff implications for Washington. Former coach Joe Gibbs will also be in attendance, as will the Hogettes in their costumes — die-hard fans who last dressed up in 2012.
“We are planning a celebration of the greatest offensive line ever to play the game,” the Commanders said in a statement. “The HOGS are a key part of our franchise’s history and we want to keep their legacy alive with the next generation of fans. We have been working with the Hogs on this event for six months and look forward to welcoming them and Coach Gibbs back.”
The former players — collectively known as “O-Line Entertainment LLC” — do not currently have a trademark for the term “Hogs.” However, they are in the process of obtaining one, and Berenzweig said he expects to receive the trademark “in a couple of weeks, probably in January.”
In the players’ statement through Berenzweig, they said that the Commanders have “no legal claim to the original HOGS legacy and brand.”
“On January 1, the Commanders are going forward with a ‘celebration’ of the HOGS,” reads the statement. “The original HOGS have tried to amicably resolve this dispute for many months now but to no avail with the Commanders before the January 1 event. Without substantial control and compensation, the original HOGS do not want to be associated with the Commanders under its current ownership and management and require that their legacy and brand is protected.”
Berenzweig said the group has been trying to reach an agreement with the Commanders for the past two months — talks that have gone “absolutely nowhere,” he added.
“We’re not trying to get into a legal battle with Dan Snyder,” Berenzweig said. “Our intention is to try to get him to do the right thing and to work out a license with these legends so that when they go through this process, they provide the proper financial respect to these former players.”
Matthew Paras contributed to this report.