Sam Huff is out of the Washington Redskins radio booth, leaving Sonny Jurgensen as the lone member of the Sonny, Sam & Frank glory days of Redskins radio. (After nearly 50 years as a player, coach, and broadcaster, Sam Huff retires from Washington Redskins) For a generation Washingtonians watched the game with “the sound turned down and the radio” to hear Huff and Sonny Jurgensen add commentary to Frank Herzog’s play-by-play. The trio was broken up in 2004 when Herzog was dumped for V.P. of branding or some other B.S. title, Larry Michael.
Herzog went on WTOP radio this weekend and suggested that Huff was fired – Hall of Famer Huff retires, Herzog questions move. It seems Herzog’s claims were based on his intiution that Huff would never give up and not any actual conversations. Perhaps Herzog was just trying to get some attention, but it is worth considering.
Huff had a reduced schedule last season, a concession to age. Barry Svrluga, described it in
Sam Huff won’t broadcast Redskins opener for first time since 1974:
Linebackers, over time, lose a step. The proof shows up on game film: Tackles are missed, yards are gained, games are lost. Radio announcers, too, wear down, and the proof is right there for fans to hear. Such inevitable drop-offs are almost imperceptible from game to game or even season to season. Yet at a certain point, they are undeniable.
Huff will still join Jurgensen and Michael in the booth for the Redskins’ eight home games as well as two on the road, against the rival Giants and Cowboys, but his curtailed schedule is an acknowledgment, in a roundabout way, that he has lost a step in recent years. “Everything ends in sports,” he said recently, and lowered his voice. “Everything ends in sports.”
That doesn’t mean he’s at peace with the decision. “I don’t understand it all,” he said one July day, not long after the Redskins’ flagship radio station, ESPN 980, announced his reduced schedule.
Huff’s departure from the booth is shocking only in that it took so long for it to happen. Dave McKenna wrote about Huff’s decline for years in the CityPaper. From November 2007: The Final Countdown? The decline of Sam Huff and Redskins radio
This Hall of Famer has spent most Sunday afternoons this fall appearing befuddled by the simplest on-field action. It’s impossible to ignore all the accusations that the game he once mastered has passed him by, and even diehard Skins fans have stopped defending his flawed performances. Many hope he goes away before he puts a permanent hurt on his local legacy.
In September 2010, McKenna wrote about Huff again Sam Huff: From “The Violent World” to His Own World
…has seemed wobbly in the booth for a while.
But by now that wobbliness has reached a level of consistency that makes the audience stay tuned so as not to miss whatever wackiness will come next.
He’s thrown so much crazy stuff out there this year, partners Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen have to be on clean-up alert whenever their beloved cohort’s microphone is on. During an exhibition game against Baltimore, for example, the refs dropped a penalty flag as the Ravens offense was approaching the line of scrimmage.
“Its gotta be holding!” said Huff. Michael and Jurgensen pointed out the ball hadn’t been snapped.
So, the end of Huff’s tenure has been a long time coming, but it is reasonable to say that his status as a Redskins icon kept him around longer than merit as a broadcaster and analyst.
I don’t know how long Jurgensen is going to keep going and Michael is probably here forever unless he parks in Dan Snyder’s special parking space or something similar. Back in 2010, I suggested that John Riggins and Joe Theismann would make a great Redskins radio team. That seems highly unlikely though, because I don’t see Riggins coming aboard. Riggins has shown a great deal of antipathy for Snyder, but also seems to have removed himself from football completely (John Riggins on Alfred Morris: “Never Heard of Him…I Don’t Watch Football” – Hogs Haven) in favor of his outdoors show, Riggo on the Range. Theismann, who had national announcing jobs for years, might be willing to move into Redskins radio booth if offered. Rick “Doc” Walker has worked the sidelines for a while and could make his way up to the booth as well.
SONNY & SAM, MORE THAN TEAMMATES
The Redskins produced a long documentary on Huff and Jurgensen, who arrived in 1964 from the New York Football Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. They’ve been best friends since those trades.