Sam Huff column: It’s not a circus; it’s NFL football
Sam Huff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982. Huff, a Middleburg resident, played in the National Football League from 1956 through 1969 as a linebacker with the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.
Recently, the Washington Post published a poll regarding the Redskins and the Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder. Almost every week, there is something negative about the Washington Redskins in the media. Although the fans have a right to know what is going on regarding the professional team of their choice, sometimes the fine line between support and control is fuzzy.
I know a little about the National Football League, having been a part of it for years, and it rubs me the wrong way to read so many negative comments about a very difficult situation, that of owning a NFL team.
Actually, Dan Snyder is one of the youngest owners of a NFL team, and he is maturing. A losing record of 86-106 at the end of 2010 during his ownership is difficult to defend, and there is little more that matters to fans other than a winning season. However, considering that Washington, D.C., is a political town, Dan Sydner is successful. D.C. and the surrounding areas are anything but ordinary, and so is the fan base. The big consideration is—fans don’t win ball games.
As I have said often, NFL football is war without guns. The ballplayers are the ones who win games, not the owners, not the manager, and not the coaches. However, consider the millions of decisions, the minutiae have to be considered for the monumental decisions involving millions of dollars that preceded that opening kickoff in every NFL game, the decisions that prepared the players and put them on the field. There you have consequences of the decisions and the weight of ownership that’s so heavy. Consider putting the most vocal critic on the field as the middle linebacker at kickoff time. That would give anyone a real perspective. The situation is similar.
In the many articles that have been written about Dan Sydner and the Redskins, a primary consideration has been whether he has been willing to spend money to promote the team, the franchise, and everything connected. In my opinion, he has. Has he made money from his efforts? Yes, I think so. Regardless, the fans want success. I do too.
When I retired from the NFL, I worked for the Marriott Cooperation as Vice-President of Sports Marketing. I had earned my place with concussions and broken bones on the list of “Well Known Names in the NFL,” and I designed a program that brought the NFL teams to the Marriott Hotels during the NFL football seasons. I had a tremendous success with that marketing program. During that time, I got to know, not only the ballplayers, but the owners, managers, coaches and those connected with the America’s favorite sport. I have some perspective in all this evaluation.
My recommendation - I made it back in the summer of 2011 in an article for Times Papers - “If Jerry Can, Why Not Dan?” I still think that.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has set a standard. He’s a visionary, along with the visionaries who built the Astrodome and the Superdome. If the Redskins’ stadium compared favorably with the one in Dallas, if we could bring a super bowl to the D.C. area, who would complain?
These owners of NFL teams are not ordinary men. On Sept. 11, 2011, I had a wonderful experience. The owner of the New York Giants, John Mara, came to the Redskins Radio Broadcasting booth to see and greet me. I had played for the Giants when his father, Wellington Mara, was owner of the New York Giants, and John came to recognize that history. The Mara family is a NFL legacy. I love being a part of the NFL.