Skins' radio trio is fun bunch to listen to even if you can't take team to heart

Phil Jackman

November 13, 1991|By Phil Jackman

Confession time: I have this thing about the Redskins. It's not really hate . . . more like a high-powered dislike, a healthy aversion, a finely-tuned antipathy. Yeah, that almost covers it.

My best estimate is the affliction commenced shortly before I was born, the year George Preston Marshall hauled his franchise out of Boston bound for the District. The old goat was in such a hurry, he cut out before the team had even finished the season, one game remaining: the NFL championship contest.

An uncle, who was a good and loyal fan of the Boston Redskins, always complained, "Marshall spent about a year looking for an excuse to leave. He got it when ticket sales were slow for the title game against the Green Bay Packers. Of course, he doubled the price of tickets and times were tough [1936]."

(The Redskins ended up losing the championship game to Green Bay, 21-6, in New York's Polo Grounds and New Englanders reveled).

Years later, the chance arose to view the object of my disrespect when Beantown got hold of another franchise and the Skins visited the Boston Yanks in Fenway Park. Details are sketchy but, as I recall, Slingin' Sam Baugh was still throwing deep for Bones Taylor in the late going even with his team up several thousand points.

On the other hand, given a choice between watching the games CBS, NBC and either TNT or ESPN telecast Sundays, or a radio broadcast of a Redskins game, and it's nolo contendere: It's Sonny, Sam and Frank every time.

Heck, any play-by-play man can tell you Earnest Byner made 5 yards in a blast off tackle and an analyst can add that the reason for the success was a good trap block by the pulling left guard. How often do you get to hear where Sam Huff ate dinner the night before with the names of his host's dogs thrown in for good measure?

Huff, Sonny Jurgensen and Frank Herzog (heard on WCAO and WMAL) are a particularly fun listen when things are going well for the team, which has been 100 percent of the time this season. Amid their hilarity are snatches of some pretty fair football insight occasionally, just enough to cover.

"The Falcons are making a better game of it than we thought," said Herzog of Sunday's game, hoping the audience wouldn't defect from a one-sided game to rake leaves.

"Come on, Frank," said Sonny, "they only have two first downs in a quarter and a half."

"Right, Sonny," piped in Sam, "but he didn't expect them to have any."

By the time the score reached 28-3 nearing halftime, Sonny said, "the Redskins have a more difficult time in 7-on-7 drills in practice. I think CBS may want to show some reruns in the second half of this thing."

"You know, we might be in for an NFL first today," Sam said. "Atlanta might chose not to come back out for the second half."

The visitors weren't the only ones who got zinged. Washington lined up immediately after a timeout and quarterback Mark Rypien called another halt in play. "I think he didn't have the play," Sam theorized. "Look, he's going to go over to the sidelines and [coach] Joe Gibbs is going to say, 'Here, Mark, we're going to write the play down for you this time.' "

Jurgy, as good at unloading a quip as he was getting rid of the ball during his illustrious career, noted, as receivers' coach Charlie Taylor caught a pass in the area of the bench, "ol' $H Charlie's closing in on Art Monk [on the all-time receptions list]."

Herzog talked an interesting interview heard during the pregame show, which started shortly after daybreak: "They were talking to Matt Millen, and it was suggested that the way the game is played these days, the era of the dumb jock is over. Mill answered, 'I don't know, I might disagree with that.' "

Interspersed with birthday wishes and varied social commentary, the Hall of Fame quarterback and linebacker worked in some incisive football commentary.

"What kind of a pass is that?" yelped Sonny. "It's second-and-10 and Atlanta's going for a 2-yard pass going out of bounds. That makes it third-and-eight . . . I tell you, Billy Joe Tollivar looks lost out there. He has no concept of what the Falcons want to do."

Not to be outdone, Sam launched into a long and involved monologue covering a minor point. "Did you understand that?" Herzog inquired.

"Not a word," answered Sonny. "Sam's got it all wrong, but let him go anyway." Huff fell into convulsive laughter.

Sam, hunger pangs overwhelming him, obviously, read a letter from a woman who was going to send along her famed chili, but she thought it might get too messy in the booth.

"What, messy," Jurgy counseled. "We'd just put it on the table, let it cool a bit and go face down in it, no mess."

During a timeout, Huff noted several Falcons kneeling. "While they're down there they better offer up a prayer or two."

It was time to send along good wishes to colleague Glenn Brenner, D.C. sportscaster who suffered a mild stroke following completion of the recent Marine Corps Marathon. "Been telling you, buddy, that you gotta stop that jogging," Sam offered.

"Right," seconded Sonny. "Just get that big, old recliner and the remote control button and that's how to stay trim."

Those two things and a radio are pretty good advice when the Skins play next.

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