Teammates react to Josh Huff being released
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - By releasing the embattled Josh Huff on Thursday after a stunning 180-degree turn over a 24-hour period, the Eagles sent a message to what was a subdued locker room.
Instead of being in the lineup against the New York Giants this weekend as coach Doug Pederson had intimated on Wednesday, Huff is on the unemployment line stemming from his arrest on Tuesday for speeding over the Walt Whitman Bridge with a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun, hollow point bullets, and marijuana.
Other transgressions like Nigel Bradham’s two arrests for an alleged assault of a cabana boy at a Miami Beach-area hotel over the summer and a misdemeanor weapons charge for bringing a firearm to the airport, as well as Nelson Agholor’s dustup with an exotic dancer, which went nowhere legally, were addressed by letting the legal process play out.
Huff, however, was not afforded that same stance and Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman called his situation “different,” although was vague in explaining that.
Some of Huff’s now ex-teammates were stunned by the sudden turn of events but seemed to get the message being sent by the Eagles brass who made the decision: Roseman, Pederson, owner Jeffrey Lurie and team president Don Smolenski.
“I told (Josh) to just keep your head up,’” running back Kenjon Barner, who also teamed with Huff in college at Oregon, said. “It’s a tough situation to be in, so what exactly can you say to a guy who was already at his lowest, and then he gets cut? There’s not too much you can say to him. You try to be uplifting, tell him to stay grounded and know that better days are ahead.”
Defensive end Brandon Graham spoke about the message being sent and how it landed to at least some.
“It’s just an eye-opener for a lot of guys that have probably been almost doing, if not doing the same thing Josh was doing,” the veteran said. “Sometimes some people get caught and sometimes some people learn from other people. So hopefully people learn from this situation and how serious it can be. We’re all just one decision away from losing our jobs”
Graham later walked back his comments, realizing it wasn’t the best idea to insinuate others were doing the same things Huff is accused of.
“I’m just saying this is a bunch of grown men here,” the veteran said. “We’ve got stuff that we need to change. I’m not saying that anybody else does it. I’m just saying don’t have a gun in your car. Don’t have drugs in your car. I’m saying like for me, if I was ever to do those things I’ve got to look back on Josh’s decision and be like, ‘Man, I’m just one decision away, one speeding past the police and I’ve got this and I’m in trouble. I’m just saying I hope everybody learns from this situation.”
Cornerback Leodis McKelvin, on the other hand, understood Huff’s explanation for having the gun.
“On a week-to-week basis, and when somebody Googles your name, they see how much you're worth,” McKelvin said. “Of course, when people don't have that much, people may see you as a target and may want to come after you, or what not. That's why some guys have guns. Some guys have families. Some guys have kids. They have wives and stuff that you have to protect.”
Safety Malcolm Jenkins, meanwhile, simply mourned the loss of a teammate.
“I think if you ask anybody in the locker room, ‘Do you think Josh Huff is a bad guy or a bad apple?’ I don’t think anybody would say that,” Jenkins said. “It’s not for us as players to weigh in on or have any part of, but as a teammate, obviously, we wish he was in the building.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen