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Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff dies at 87

Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; A general overall view of the NFL Shield logo at midfield during an NFL International Series game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; A general overall view of the NFL Shield logo at midfield during an NFL International Series game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Huff, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982, died Saturday in Winchester, Va. He was 87.

Huff, a feared middle linebacker whose NFL career spanned 13 seasons, played for the New York Giants from 1956-63 and the Washington franchise from 1964-67 and again in ’69.

He died in a hospital, The New York Times reported. His daughter, Catherine Huff Myers, told the newspaper her father found out he had dementia in 2013.

Huff played in six NFL championship games in his eight seasons with the Giants. He was named a first-team All-Pro twice, in 1958 and ’59.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Washington Ring of Fame inductee Sam Huff,” read a statement from Washington team owners Dan and Tanya Snyder on Saturday. “Anyone who knew Sam knew what an amazing person he was. He was an iconic player and broadcaster for the franchise for over 40 years and was a great friend to our family. He represented the franchise with honor and respect on the field and in the booth and was beloved by our fans.”

Huff was recalled for his battles with two of the NFL’s greatest fullbacks — Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns and Jim Taylor of the Green Bay Packers. But Huff also had 30 career interceptions, along with 17 fumble recoveries and even two touchdowns. He played in 168 NFL games, starting 159.

On Nov. 30, 1959, nearly a year after the sudden-death NFL title game between the Giants and Baltimore Colts sent the popularity of pro football skyrocketing, Time magazine put Huff’s portrait on its cover. He was the highlight of a story titled “A Man’s Game,” an article about pro football.

Huff’s rugged persona was secured in October 1960 when Walter Cronkite narrated the CBS documentary “The Violent World of Sam Huff.” Huff had a microphone on his shoulder pads for a preseason game against the Chicago Bears the past August.

Viewers watched and listened to Huff call signals in the huddle; he then threatened a Bears receiver he thought was taking advantage of him.

“You do that again, you’ll get a broken nose,” Huff said. “Don’t hit me on the chin with your elbow. I’m not going to warn you no more.”

In a 2002 interview for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Huff talked about his toughness as a player.

“I never let up on anybody,” he said. “I don’t think I ever quit on a play. If you had the football, I was going to hit you, and when I hit you, I tried to hit you hard enough to hurt you. That’s the way the game should be played.”

Huff was an All-American at West Virginia as a guard and tackle on offense and defense. The Giants chose him in the third round of the 1956 NFL Draft.

In reshaping a veteran team after the 1963 season, the Giants traded Huff to Washington for running back Dick James and defensive end Andy Stynchula. Huff was angered by the trade.

Huff played for Washington for the next four seasons, then retired, then returned for a last season as a player and linebackers coach in 1969, when Vince Lombardi was named Washington’s head coach.

Huff later became a radio announcer for Washington games.

–Field Level Media