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.
He sat behind a desk in his Middleburg office, just a few miles from his farm and stables, smack dab in the center of Virginia horse country. From here, he still runs a business: He is chief executive of the West Virginia Breeders Classics, the October thoroughbred races in Charles Town he started 25 years ago with Carol Holden, his longtime domestic and professional partner. This is where he reports most days, normally after breakfast at the Red Fox Inn, the downtown standby where patrons approach him and he approaches patrons, talking so frequently about football.
“I have a listening audience that other people don’t have,” Huff said. “They say, ‘We love you and Sonny.’ ”
Sonny and Sam. The Redskins open a new era Sunday, when rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III makes the first start of his highly anticipated career. For three decades, such a development would have been overseen by Sonny and Sam, who have served as judge and jury of the Redskins since Jurgensen first joined Huff in the radio booth at WMAL for the 1981 season. The pair worked first with play-by-play man Frank Herzog, and since 2004 they have been paired with Michael. Though each began his playing career in another city — Jurgensen in Philadelphia with the Eagles, Huff in New York with the Giants — they arrived by trade in 1964, and are so closely linked in team lore that two years ago the franchise produced a documentary on them and called it, “Brothers of the Legacy.”