“Dear Sam,” he said, and the words of the late Jack Kent Cooke came forth. In a note dated April 22, 1996, Cooke wanted to let Huff know that he intended to name one of the concourses at the yet-to-be-opened FedEx Field the “Sam Huff Concourse.”
“You deserve this honor,” Huff said, reading Cooke’s words. “I do this to ensure that your career with the Redskins will never be forgotten.”
The broadcast with Huff and Jurgensen has always had an informal, folksy feel, with Huff standing up for the defense, and Jurgensen often poking fun at Huff, who then would poke back. Each brought his own flavor: Jurgensen, from the North Carolina coast, and Huff, from the West Virginia mountains.
But over the past few seasons, Internet message boards have buzzed over occasional gaffes in the broadcasts, many of them committed by Huff. The list, compiled bit by bit on the Web, is painfully public.
Lots of them are small. Against Philadelphia in the final game of the 2010 season, when tight end Fred Davis scored, Huff said, “I mean, he hasn’t caught a touchdown pass, so they didn’t cover him!” Michael responded immediately, “Well, he caught one last week.” Huff has struggled with rules, such as those for intentional grounding and overtime.
No one episode is particularly egregious. None is of the sort that, on its own, could threaten a career. But as they mounted, Chuck Sapienza, a lifelong Redskins fan from Silver Spring who is now the executive producer of the Redskins Radio Network, ended up in that same office in Middleburg, across that desk from Huff, this spring.
“Sam and his family, they weren’t sure he wanted to do all the games,” Sapienza said. So they talked. Eventually, after more meetings, they settled on the arrangement that began in the preseason, when Huff stayed home from trips to Buffalo and Chicago, and will continue with the first two weeks of the regular season, trips to New Orleans and St. Louis. At various points over the course of the summer, Huff has clearly felt forced to the side.
“How could you have a better broadcast than we have?” Huff asked one day. Sapienza — who grew up listening to Huff and Jurgensen and emphasized, “This is really a decision Sam made with his family” — did some research.