WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sam Huff has left the booth.
After nearly four decades as a color analyst for the Washington Redskins—a second career that gained him almost as much notoriety as his helmet-cracking Hall of Fame playing days—Huff announced he will not return to the Redskins broadcasts in 2013.
Huff, 78, worked only home games last season and won’t be a part of any live-game coverage this season, though an ESPN980 official said Huff will be featured on a pregame show at some home games.
One of only two West Virginia football players to have his jersey number retired, Huff was a fixture on broadcasts for 38 years, teaming with former quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and play-by-play legend Frank Herzog as signature voices of the Redskins.
Jurgensen now will remain as the solo analyst, along with play-by-play man Larry Michael, who took over for Herzog in 2004.
Herzog credited Huff’s colloquial straight-talk and rich football knowledge with being essential to the beloved broadcasts.
“A delightful human being, and a man that I’ve known for 30 years and really grown to love,” Herzog told The Washington Post this weekend. “I learned an awful lot of football from him. He has a great presence, (and) he understood how his role was played in the booth. He was the good old boy from West Virginia, and he’d give you that West Virginia twang and slang, but he would say things that you’d go ‘Wow!’ Things that were right, you know? He had great instincts. And I think that’s what really set him apart from Sonny, and it was a great counter-balance between the two of them.”
Huff was an All-American lineman at WVU in 1955 who played for the New York Giants from 1956-63 before spending his final six NFL seasons in Washington. He also coached the Redskins linebackers in 1970 before joining the broadcast team in 1975.
“Sam got to be too old,” Herzog said. “And hey, it’s a problem that a lot of people face.”
Along with suffering health issues in recent years, Huff’s old-school charm occasionally mixed with on-air mistakes. Here’s an interesting critique from back in 2007.
Said Huff said in a statement: “I’ve enjoyed every game that I played, coached and provided color commentary over the last 50 years with the Washington Redskins. I look forward to joining Larry, Sonny and Doc on the pre-game show a few times this season.”