Pro Football Hall of Famer Sam Huff has passed away at the age of 87. Huff “passed away Saturday at a hospital in Winchester, Va” according to the New York Giants’ announcement.
The former linebacker built his career, and added to the foundation of the grandiose NFL brand, as a linebacker for the Giants between 1956-1963.
Throughout his career, Huff grabbed 30 interceptions and was selected to five Pro Bowl nods and six total All-Pro honors. Huff was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and inducted into the New York Giants’ Ring of Honor in 2010.
Huff became one of the NFL’s first household names, at a time when the League was still at the precipice of building itself to be the juggernaut it is now. When the spectacle of baseball produced the most notable star-athletes in America, Huff rose to prominence among these conventional stars by showcasing an ideal blend of the acuity and brute force to the game of football.
Playing for the Giants, he became the first rookie middle linebacker to start an NFL championship game in 1956. The Giants went on to win 47-7 against the Chicago Bears.
Huff was a prime product of a rugged era of NFL past that was as cold-blooded as it was sharp. He was a revered figure that saw his talents guide defenses on the field, also worth featuring on the cover of Time magazine back in 1959.
Huff spent five additional seasons with the Washington Redskins (1964-67, 1969). His sole year in 1969 was a result of legendary coach Vince Lombardi convincing Huff to re-join the Redskins during his first year as Washington’s head coach. Lombardi had previously coached Huff as part of the Giants defense and was a pillar for the player’s development.
Giants co-owner John Mara released a statement on Huff’s passing Saturday.
“Sam was one of the greatest Giants of all time. He was the heart and soul of our defense in his era. He almost single-handedly influenced the first chants of ‘Defense, Defense’ in Yankee Stadium.”
Washington owners Dan and Tanya Snyder also released a statement.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Washington Ring of Fame inductee Sam Huff. 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. Tanya and I would like to extend our deepest condolences to all of Sam’s family and friends during this time.”
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