Sam Huff column: Who’s carrying a big stick?
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.
I don’t smoke, drink intoxicating beverages or use illegal drugs, and I don’t condone substance abuse or breaking the law. I believe in accountability, and I think Redskins’ Coach Mike Shanahan has handled the situation regarding Trent Williams and Fred Davis in a superbly professional manner.
I have concerns, however. Immediately after the Redskins and Jets game, the media was all over the story regarding the two Redskins’ players for their failed drug tests. Who gave the report to the media so quickly that even the coach had not received a ruling?
According to the Washington Post, even Coach Shanahan, on the Monday after the Redskins and Jets game, had not yet had the National Football League formally notify him, and yet the story was in the news. It all sounded to me like someone was being tried by the media, again. I always try to put myself in the other person’s situation before I judge them.
I can give you a former player’s perspective about players and their using drugs. As an athlete, I know pain is normal, even severe pain, for anyone who plays major league sports, especially professional football. The NFL teams all have trainers and medical staff, and their job description and duties include their treating injuries, minimizing the damages and the pain, and helping to put the players back on the active list.
I certainly needed and used them in my day. We all did, including my “Brother of the Legacy,” Sonny Jurgensen.
When I was a player as far back as West Virginia University, I was often injected with Novocaine. When I played with the Giants, with the help of pain killers, I played with a broken rib that still sticks out from my rib cage. When I was traded to the Redskins, one of the first things that happened to me was injuring my ankle. It looked like liver, and it was the most painful injury I ever had. Immediately, the trainer/medical staff stuck my foot in ice water, injected my ankle with Novocaine, taped it, and put me back in action.
When I played for the Giants, it was standard for several sponsoring companies to place a case of beer and a carton of cigarettes in the team members’ lockers. My roommates and I carried three cases of beer and three cartons of cigarettes back to our room each week and used it to entertain other players as they dropped by our room. During those years, to make ends meet financially, I worked for Philip Morris Tobacco Company and was at one time, the “Marlboro Man” in ads and television commercials, even though I did not smoke. We are all familiar with the beer commercials during today’s major league sports events, and there is enough beer sold at some events to float a battleship.
According to Wikipedia, the list for recreational drugs includes tobacco, caffeine, antihistamines, and other substances commonly used. I know what substance abuse means and about the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Convention on Psychotropic Substances. I know about rules and regulations and what a contract infraction is. As I said, I don’t condone use of illegal drugs in any circumstance or breaking the terms of a contract.
I don’t know either Williams or Davis very well; I think they should not have broken the rules, and I think they should be punished. However, I do think their suspension for four games, or the rest of the season, is too severe a punishment. I expressed my concern about this sort of thing before, my concern about the fine that was levied against rookie wide receiver, Niles Paul, for a tackle in the St. Louis game, for his making a really good tackle when the opponent’s receiver did not make a fair catch sign. What I am saying is—someone is carrying a big stick, and I am not sure it is just. If you have never played the game, the perspective is different; that’s for sure. Has Roger Goodell ever played NFL football?
I feel sorry for the families of these two Redskins players. After all, it’s Christmas time.