Sam Huff to Drew Brees: Pipe down and learn some history

by Washington Post editors

Editor’s Note: With the NFL labor dispute nearing its first court date, Sam Huff, Hall of Fame linebacker for the Giants and Redskins, apparently still takes offense at comments New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees made to USA Today in January 2009. Brees is a member of the executive committee of the dissolved NFL Players Association,and one of the 10 plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit players have filed against the owners and the league.

During a recent radio interview, Huff was reminded of Brees’ two-year-old comments about some former NFL players:

“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees said then.” They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’

“In that case, that’s not our fault as players.”

Huff’s rather unflattering reaction made news across the blogosphere.

On Monday, Huff sent the following commentary to the Post and the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

I was always taught that if a person could not say something good about someone, anyone subject to attention, they should keep their mouth shut. I have a struggle living up to that standard; especially when it comes to Drew Brees, I let it all hang out. He seems to belong to that group of younger generation who left their NFL history books at home.

I have never met Drew Brees, but I played against some of the greatest quarterbacks that ever threw a football. As far as I know, Brees plays for the New Orleans Saints and is fortunate to be playing for them. He is fortunate to be playing for the Saints in the Superdome, which is one of the greatest stadiums of all time. Former Mayor Moon Landrieu and I were friends, and I remember talking to him about the Superdome when Moon was planning to have it built. At that time, I was working for the Marriott Hotel Corporation. After I retired from NFL football, I worked for that corporation as vice-president for twenty-seven years. All that, of course, was before Drew Brees’ time.

Before I go any further with anything that will add to the talk on the internet about the issue of some retired NFL players needing help, let me make a statement. My record, I think, speaks for itself and I think I earned the right to express my opinion about what is right for the NFL. I am in the High School HOF, College HOF, and NFL HOF. Only ten people who have played football have had that honor. When I played for the Giants, I was the first to be wired for sound and was the subject of the documentary “The Violent World of Sam Huff,” which was aired by CBS Television and narrated by Walter Cronkite. Later I was the only NFL player to be on the cover of Time Magazine. Our team changed the way the word “defense” was pronounced; the accent was shifted to the first syllable during those days. We loved that, hearing those fans scream, “De’-fense, De’-fense.” Of course, I had two of the greatest coaches of all time, Vince Lombardi for offense and Tom Landry for defense.

It was during that time that I helped form the National Football League Players Association. When I was playing for the Giants at Yankee Stadium, I had to share a locker, and I did share it with Mickey Mantle. I was also doing a television show with Howard Cosell. One of my best experiences, however, was when I played in what is called “The Greatest Football Game of All Time.” That was the game in 1958 between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts with Y. A. Tittle, Charley Conerly and Johnny Unitas as quarterbacks. The Colts won in overtime, which really was the fifth quarter. After all these years, the game is still remembered. We didn’t have a Superdome to play in, but I was proud to be a part of it all at New York’s Yankee Stadium.

Later I was traded to the Redskins, and I have had a wonderful career with that organization where I was player/coach for the great Vince Lombardi, and I am still associated with the organization as a broadcaster along with Sonny Jurgensen and Larry Michaels for Redskins Radio. I have been on a good many lists put together by those who know and write about the game. Those are my credentials. Let it be known ---- in my opinion, Drew Brees is just trying to get to where I have been. I know he will not have the Superdome named for him, and he needs to learn the history of the Superdome like I did Yankee Stadium’s history.

When I was playing, the players had a great deal of respect for each other, even for the opponents you tried to beat. I had a great deal of respect for both Jim Taylor and Jim Brown, two of my main opponents. There were great athletes and helped make football the nation’s favorite sport. I think that respect is not as prevalent today among the active players.

I think I know enough about the game to say something is wrong when I think it is wrong. I am not one of those retired players who, as Drew Brees insinuates, has begged for money, and I do not need to. However, I know about the players of the 50’s and 60’s, and they gave everything imaginable to make the game what it is today. Some of those players need help from the NFLPA. They deserve it, and Drew Brees needs better credentials before he makes such derogatory statements about those players.

I am sorry if I have offended Drew Brees, but I have always been one to express my opinion, like most linebackers in the NFL. There is one thing to remember; NFL could mean “not for long” in any player’s career.

--Sam Huff, NFL HOF ’82, LINEBACKER

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