HomeSportsSam Huff, Legendary Giants Linebacker, Dies at 87

Sam Huff, Legendary Giants Linebacker, Dies at 87

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Former NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff, one of the New York Giants greats, died on Saturday at 87.

The Associated Press reported that Huff, who helped his team reach six NFL title games in the 1950s and 1960s, died of natural causes in Winchester, Va.

Huff later became a famous player and announcer with the Washington football team. In 1982, the league inducted him into its hall of fame.

Giants Linebacker Won Lots Of Recognition

Born in Edna, West Virginia during the 1930s, Robert “Sam” Huff became a two-time All-Pro player during a 13-year career.

But it took some time and hard work to get there.

Huff’s father and brother worked in coal mines, and the family lived in a rowhouse with no running water. The young man worked hard in sports, becoming a two-way lineman. He matriculated to West Virginia University, playing in the guard position as a sophomore and tackle in his final two years.

Soon after, the Giants drafted him in the third round of the 1956 NFL draft. 

However, despite all the accolades, Huff only won a championship in his rookie season. The Giants beat the Bears, 47-7, at Yankee Stadium in 1956. Three years later, the league named him its top linebacker.

Before it was all said and done, Huff went to five Pro Bowls (four with the Giants and one with Washington). He often ran into star players like Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, and other fierce running backs.

Hey trivia buffs, Huff was the first NFL player to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. The publication featured Huff on Nov. 30, 1959.

Huff Part Of Historic Defensive Plan

If you’re a football fan, you’ll have to credit Huff’s role in the 4-3 defensive scheme. Huff played the antsy middle linebacker early in former Cowboys coach Tom Landry’s plans. Landry developed the play when he was a Giants defensive coordinator and later Dallas head coach.

Landry’s use of the mobile Huff was key to the play’s development. The coach found Huff better suited for the role as the middle linebacker. Both player and coach often spent nights discussing defensive situations, and the extra help figured into Huff’s development. Over that time, Huff developed a keen ability to read plays and confuse offenses. When teammate Ray Beck left an Oct. 7, 1956 game hurt, Huff took over and was a crucial fixture in the Giants football dominance for years. 

After retiring as a player, Huff coached Washington’s team for the 1970 season. After football, he worked with Marriott Hotels as a marketer until 1998.

“Anyone who knew Sam knew what an amazing person he was,” Washington Football Team owners Dan and Tanya Snyder said. “He was an iconic player and broadcaster for the franchise for over 40 years and was a great friend to our family.”