Maybe the biggest loser in the Josh Huff debacle will be the locker room camaraderie of the Eagles.
Huff was released in disgrace by the Eagles yesterday by a top-brass decision coming down from the ownership level. A productive special-teams returner and an underachieving wide receiver was laid to rest as far as Philly is concerned.
Huff reportedly was in tears as he said goodbye to his Eagles teammates whilst cleaning out his locker.
This is the last thing you want to report about as your team prepares for a mid-season do-or-die contest with the Giants at the Meadowlands.
Maybe cooler heads would have decided to let due process play out. But the arrest of the 25-year-old Huff on the Walt Whitman Bridge alleging pot possession, DUI and a handgun violation added up to a “You’re Fired” from Jeff Lurie…
I get it that we don’t want ghetto gangsta mentalities on this team— but the profile of Josh Huff painted by his teammates tells a different story.
“I’ve known Huff going back to 2009-2010, so on a personal level, I feel for the guy,” said Barner, who went to school with Huff at University of Oregon. “To me, I don’t have a lot of friends, I have a lot of guys that I consider brothers, and to me Huff is considered like my younger brother.”
“Josh is a great person. He’s a caring person, he’s a loving person, he’s a great father, he’s a great husband, he’s a great friend. He’s somebody that’s going to be there for you through whatever situation comes your way, and that’s the type of guy you want around you. He just happened to make a mistake, a very big mistake.”
Tim McManus, ESPN.com:
“There have been multiple off-field issues in recent months under first-year head coach Pederson. A dancer at a Philadelphia strip club accused wide receiver Nelson Agholor of sexual assault in June, though he was never charged. Linebacker Nigel Bradham was arrested in late July for allegedly striking a Miami hotel employee after a verbal altercation and was arrested in October at Miami International Airport after authorities say TSA workers found a loaded gun in his backpack.”
Yet those guys survive while Huff gets the boot.
“As a head coach you’ve got to be like — because I know y’all are probably throwing questions at him like, does he have control or whatever because a lot of people have been getting in trouble as far as the police or whatever,” said cornerback Leodis McKelvin of Pederson, “and I just understand as a coach you have to deal with it and get back up under your team and get them to understand that this is a business and you’ve got to handle yourself in the right way.”
McKelvin was asked if the Huff decision was made to send a message. “Most definitely,” he responded. “What else can you say?”
The buzz which typically accompanies an upcoming game with the New York Giants was replaced by more of a sober vibe while players handled questions about the departure of their former teammate.
“I think this is more of a distraction than Josh actually getting in trouble, to be honest,” said Eagles veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins. “You walk in the locker room yesterday, we were status quo, we were moving on. But obviously now it’s a lot different feel. It’s hard to say right now what kind of impact this is going to have on the season. I think we’ll miss him as a player, honestly. But we’ve got guys that are ready to step up, ready to make plays. It’s like anything else — you lose Lane Johnson, you’ve gotta figure out a way to move on. But obviously today, the initial reaction is, you’d love to have him in the building.”
In a statement released to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, Huff said, “First, I want to apologize to Mr. Lurie and his family, my coaches and teammates, and all Eagles fans. I’m sorry that any action by me brought negative light to this organization. I want to thank the Lurie Family, Howie [Roseman], this community and the entire Eagles organization for the opportunity I’ve had for the past 3 years. Most important, I want to let the fans and community as a whole know that I understand the responsibility I have as a professional athlete, and I will take all measures necessary to correct mistakes I have made.”
Here’s where it got weird:
“I’m a professional athlete. What professional athlete don’t have a gun?” Huff said. “I have a wife and I have a son at home. My job is to protect them at all costs, and my job is to protect myself as well, even though I know I have security here, but I have to protect myself as well.”
Asked whether he believes everybody in the Eagles locker room and around the league carries a gun, Huff said, “I do. Yes, I do.”
Meanwhile, Bryce Treggs moves up into the Eagles wide receiver rotation, and Wendell Smallwood takes over the KR duties. Life goes on within you and without you.