LANDOVER, MD., September 10, 2013 — After 33 years of the Sonny and Sam show on the radio in D.C., the Washington Redskins Radio Network is moving on without Sam Huff, who retired after last season. Huff’s absence was noticed considerably during last night’s Redskins-Eagles game.
The broadcast duo, which consisted of retired Hall of Fame Redskin quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and retired Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff as color analysts, began in 1979. They were joiined by Frank Herzog in the booth as the play-by-play announcer.
Frank Hertzog was unceremoniously replaced with Larry Michael in 2005. Larry Michael does a great job in his role, but Sonny and Sam were the real entertainment.
The offensive minded Sonny Jurgenson used to rib the defensive supporter, Sam Huff, with back and forth banter over which aspect of the team’s effort contributed the most to wins and losses on a play-by-play basis. This successful dynamic flourished for years, while broadcasting for the 33 radio stations in the Redskin network.
Sam Huff was known for making humorous remarks. He misidentified players, referee calls and team names. At times, Huff would be referring to plays and players from so long ago that they played when Fred and Barney were taking early leave from the rock quarry to catch games.
While Sam Huff mentioning the efforts of NFL quarterback Y.A. Tittle from the 1950s and 60s and Redskin quarterback Sammy Baugh from even earlier did show off his encyclopedic memory, it also revealed Huff’s poor grasp of current players’ names and positions.
Huff’s minor gaffes were a source of humor for Jurgenson and the listening audience, who felt the charm of Huff was wondering what he would say next. Sam Huff’s playful arguing his pride of defensive play was offset by Jurgenson’s similar pride of offensive play.
Many say the 79-year old Huff did not retire, but was retired against his wishes. Last year, the Redskin’s scaled back Sam Huff’s workload by having him only work home games and two road games, against the Cowboys and Giants.
Whatever brain trust let Sam Huff go also took away a full half of Jurgenson’s contributions to the broadcast and this was readily apparent with last night’s efforts of Michaels trying to fill the gap with relentless, uninspired talking. The 2002 addition of retired Redskin Rick “Doc” Walker for sideline commentary also tried to fill Huff’s spot, but was was dismal.
Sonny Jurgenson’s performance was flat and comparatively unenthusiastic in Sam Huff’s absence. The banter that made the radio broadcast a source of entertainment is gone. Huff’s absence was obvious as the show sounded far too businesslike and lacking humor, spontaneity and creativity.
The Redskin football team has performance issues to overcome or they may face a troubling season. As for the Washington Redskin Radio Network, they too have performance issues to overcome, and unless they send in Sam Huff, the season is all but over.
Without Sam Huff’s sounding off on the Redskins’ efforts on defense, the show is, well, offensive.
Paul Mountjoy is a Washington Times Digital News Columnist and staunch Redskin fan of 48 years.
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