Dozens of people gathered to honor Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff at a memorial service near his Virginia farm.
At the service Monday at a community center in Middleburg, West Virginia Racing Commission chairman Ken Lowe was among those who paid tribute to Huff, who died Nov. 13 at age 87.
Born in a West Virginia coal mining camp, Huff helped the New York Giants reach six NFL title games from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s and later became a popular player and announcer in Washington, D.C.
Huff always will be remembered as the furious middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme developed for him by fellow Hall of Famer Tom Landry, his defensive coordinator with New York and later the architect of the Dallas Cowboys’ rise to power.
Huff was selected as the NFL’s top linebacker in 1959. He went to five Pro Bowls, four with the Giants and one with Washington.
Drafted out of West Virginia in the third round in 1956, Huff played for New York from 1956-63. He was traded to Washington before the 1964 season and played there for the next four seasons. He retired after the ’67 season, sat out the following year and returned for a final season in 1969 as a player-coach under Vince Lombardi.
Huff spent three seasons working as a color commentator for the Giants on radio before moving over to a similar job with Washington, where he spent 38 years calling games, starting in 1975.
Huff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
Huff and his longtime partner, Carol Holden, raised thoroughbred horses in Middleburg. In 1987, he co-founded the West Virginia Breeders Classic in Charles Town, West Virginia. Holden still serves as its president.
Lowe read a resolution honoring Huff “for his support, contributions and unwavering dedication to the Thoroughbred racing industry, the West Virginia Racing Commission and the State of West Virginia.”
Huff also became vice president for special markets with Marriott International. According to a news release from Holden, executive chairman J.W. Marriott Jr. at the service recalled Huff’s long association with the company, including Huff’s determination to land one of the parking spots at Marriott headquarters that were reserved for board members.
Other vice presidents complained after Huff’s wish was granted. Marriott responded that the spots were reserved “for board members and anyone else in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
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