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Sam Huff column: A heartbreaking sport

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 have called it “war without guns”, and if you play football in the National Football League, it is. I made several predictions this year before the NFL season began, and so far, the predictions have held true. 

During the lockout, I said we would have a NFL season, and we are having it. I said that Rex Grossman would be the starting quarterback, and he is. I stated that many of the experienced football players would be cut or traded to make room for those who were drafted, and that happened. 

The Redskins, mainly because of the new system, cut a couple of dozen from the roster in order to meet regulations. I don’t know everything, but I know football. I have been there and done that. As far as football is concerned, I have done it all and I have seen it all. That was fortunate for me because I enjoyed the war, so to speak. 

Those who have been cut were outstanding athletes—just not needed for the particular positions available. It is tough getting into the NFL. The NFL is not for boys or for anyone not willing to sacrifice. There are major sacrifices all the way through high school, college and in the NFL. While other students have free time, those who are trying to make it to the pros are on the practice field, training, competing and anything else the coaches want them to do. I did it. It was my ticket out of the coal mines.

Just making it to the pros, however, does not guarantee anyone’s future. Those who have just been cut have families, and these families will suffer the consequences of the athletes’ gamble. But, being traded is better than being cut. When you are traded, you know some team wants you.

It happened to me. After a very successful eight seasons with the New York Giants, I was traded to the Redskins. My family suffered the consequences because we were happy in New York. The day I was traded the fans let me know I was valued as a player. Even the owner of the New York Jets, Sonny Werblin, came to my home to see me and my family. He said he wanted me to play for him, but he did not want to start a fight with the NFL. His saying all that helped, but regardless, what happened was brutal. 

Fortunately for me, I was able to pick up and go on. With the Redskins, I played for Vince Lombardi, played with my “Brother of the Legacy” Sonny Jurgensen, and enjoyed the ultimate victory, beating the coach who traded me, Allie Sherman, in a game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. That day, Sonny helped me, and we ran the score up to 72 by calling a time out and then calling for a field goal in the final minutes. I loved it! 

Sunday, Sept. 11 was a day to remember. The pre-game ceremony to commemorate that tragic day 10 years ago was especially well done. The stadium was full since the game was between two teams with a special rivalry which began when Sonny and I were just kids. That the Redskins beat the Giants was the perfect beginning to the season and showed the Redskin fans that everyone connected with the team has done a great job in getting ready for the season, regardless of the lockout.

I thoroughly enjoy being part of the Redskins Radio Broadcasting along with Sonny Jurgensen and Larry Michael. Now that the season has begun, or “war” as I call it, the competition will get tough, and that’s why NFL football is the nation’s favorite sport.


dear sam,

thanks for all the great memories—the game back in the 60s was the most fun to watch, with tough, competitive balance between offenses and defenses, running and passing. now, with all the rules favoring the passing game, it’s like a fire drill, and far less enjoyable to watch. give my best to sonny as well! you two make a great team!

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