With the Mountaineers facing off against James Madison University at FedEx Field later this year, West Virginia has decided to honor former Mountaineer and former Washington Redskin Sam Huff. Huff attended WVU in early 1950s.
Huff played starting guard during his sophomore year on after being a backup his freshman year. He was a letterman all four years and during his time helped the Mountaineers to a 31-7 record overall. Huff also helped West Virginia get to the Sugar Bowl in 1954. In his senior year at WVU, Huff was an All-American and served as a co-captain in the Senior Bowl.
In 1956, he entered the NFL Draft and was picked in the third round with the thirtieth overall pick by the New York Giants. While on the Giants, Huff felt that they didn’t have a place for him and was about to leave when defensive coordinator Vince Lombardi stopped him and told him that he would make a spot for him on the team. Lombardi created the 4-3 defense and switched Huff from lineman to a linebacker. Huff liked the change since he was able to keep his head up and use his eyes to scan the field.
When starting middle linebacker Ray Beck went down, Huff was put into his first game on October 1956. With Huff in the starting position, he led them to an 8-3-1 record which gave the Giants the Eastern Conference title. The Giants eventually advanced to the 1956 Championship Game and Huff became the first rookie middle linebacker to start a championship game. Two years later the Giants were back in the Championship Game and faced off against Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts in what was called the “The Greatest Game Ever Played”. It was also the first NFL game to go into sudden death overtime. However, they did not win as the Colts beat them 23-17.
The Giants were back at it again next year and once again played and lost to the Colts. That Huff was the first NFL player to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. The Giants went back to the Championship Game in 1961, 1962 and 1963, but lost them all. In 1964, Huff was traded to the Washington Redskins.
Huff's determination and toughness heavily impacted the Redskins' defense since in 1965 they had the second highest ranked defense. In November 1966 Huff faced his former team and beat them 77-42. This was recorded as the highest-scoring game in league history. Huff played in 150 games straight until an ankle injury sidelined him and he eventually retired in 1966.
While Huff was done with football he continued to make an impact in the sporting world. In 1982 he payed $75,000 to ESPN to show the West Virginia Breeders Classic and has run for over 20 years. Huff was also a color commentator for the Giants on the radio, but after one season he decided to go to the Redskins radio network where he calls games alongside Sonny Jergensen. Huff is also the second WVU player to be inducted into the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. In 2005, Huff’s number 75 was retired by WVU.
Huff's pro career accolades include; 5x Pro Bowler, 4x First-Team All Pro, 2x Second-Team All Pro, 2x All-Conference, he was a member of the 1950s All-Decade Team, he is also listed as one of the 70 Greatest Redskins and is a member of the Redskins' Ring of Honor. His pro stats include; 30 interceptions, 2 touchdowns and he has played in 168 games.
West Virginia will take on JMU on September 15 at FedEx Field.
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