Still, there can be despair in his voice when he considers the upcoming season and his role in it. “I don’t know what the hell happened,” he said one day. Shortly thereafter, Holden walked in. Huff looked up. She was told about his frustration about the radio situation.
“Well, he’s doing it, and that’s what he wants,” she said, with Huff listening on. “And they’re paying him to do it, so it can’t be too frustrating.”
‘Violent World of Sam Huff’
So here he is, approaching his ninth decade, still with an obvious passion for football, tugged in two directions. People around him want him to slow down, and at times he agrees. People involved with the radio broadcast, most of whom would not speak for this story, worry about him constantly. He is part of the Redskins’ fabric. He’s missing just six regular season games. But he seems to wonder, as Jurgensen and Michael and Walker march on without him: Will the lesser schedule lessen his position with the franchise?
“He’s the type to go somewhere and waits to come home,” Holden said. “But he loves traveling with Sonny, with the team. And part of his argument has been, ‘I’m a team player. I should be there.’ That’s really where it comes from. And yet, he’s gotten tired. He complained every time he had to go away, yet he still wants to go.”
Told that some longtime listeners — and even some people who are involved in the broadcast — have argued that his performance has slipped, Huff shot back, “That’s [expletive]! . . . I pay attention to what I do. I ride on the back of London Fletcher’s shoulder pads.”
He is, at that moment, a middle linebacker again, seeing the game from the perspective of Fletcher, who mans an inside spot for these Redskins. During Huff’s playing days, after he grew up as the son of a West Virginia coal miner and became the first in his family to graduate high school and then attend college, he was the subject of a groundbreaking Walter Cronkite piece called “The Violent World of Sam Huff,” part of CBS’s series, “The Twentieth Century.” It is fascinating viewing, with Huff miked up for sound, barreling through the offensive line, and Cronkite booming, “That was Sam Huff, doing what he’s paid to do: knock the other guy down.”
These are, to this day, Huff’s richest moments, reliving his days in Edna Gas, W. Va., or at West Virginia University, and especially in New York, where he turned middle linebacker into a glamorous position with the Giants. He was the first professional football player on the cover of Time. That cover hangs on the wall in his office, part of a sea of memorabilia, each photo more fascinating than the last.