Apolo­getic Huff de­fends his right to bear arms

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> It sure sounds like Ea­gles wide re­ceiver Josh Huff doesn’t go any­where with­out the Smith & Wes­son 9mm he was ar­rested with by DRPA Po­lice Tues­day on the Walt Whit­man Bridge.

While the Ea­gles vowed to move on from the traf­fic stop that went vi­ral, their spec­tac­u­lar kick­off re­turner charged with un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of weapons, a sec­ond-de­gree of­fense that could net a sen­tence of up to 10 years, and pos­ses­sion of hol­low point bul­lets, a third-de­gree of­fense, it spot­lighted another shock­ing side of the gun cul­ture.

Huff seemed in­cred­u­lous when asked why in the world he had the hol­low points.

“We’re pro­fes­sional ath­letes,” Huff said. “What pro­fes­sional ath­lete don’t have a gun? 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, I have to pro­tect my­self as well.”

Huff hails from Hous­ton, Texas, where his gun is li­censed. Lis­ten­ing to him, it’s the kind of place you need to be pack­ing heat.

Huff should have had the piece li­censed in New Jer­sey, which is why he’s in so much trou­ble. The hol­low points re­in­force his ig­no­rance of the strict Jer­sey gun laws.

When Huff was ar­rested, it had to set off alarms in the Ea­gles’ locker room. Over half of the Ea­gles’ play­ers have guns, ac­cord­ing to a team source.

“I knew about the New Jer­sey laws but I didn’t know a lot about them,” Huff said. “I didn’t know enough about them clearly. I made a ter­ri­ble de­ci­sion yes­ter­day. It is what it is at this mo­ment and I have to do my best to re­pair my im­age and make sure I give my all to my team­mates.”

If the NFL de­ter­mines Huff had the pis­tol on the Ea­gles’ premises, which he de­nies, he could be sus­pended un­der terms of the per­sonal con­duct pol­icy. Huff also faces mo­tor ve­hi­cle vi­o­la­tions in­clud­ing speed­ing from the stop. It’s a lot for the third-year vet to take on.

“I guess it just de­pends on what hap­pens from a le­gal stand­point,” Ea­gles vet­eran Mal­colm Jenk­ins said. “As far as right now, we’re mov­ing for­ward. Un­less some­thing crazy hap­pens that we don’t an­tic­i­pate, that’s the only way I see it re­ally be­ing a huge dis­trac­tion. But ob­vi­ously we’re happy to have him in the build­ing. Noth­ing was dif­fer­ent about to­day ex­cept the fact that we had to an­swer ques­tions about it.”

Pre­dictably, head coach Doug Ped­er­son said the Ea­gles will let Huff’s le­gal is­sues play out in the courts be­fore de­ter­min­ing what dis­ci­pline to take. Ped­er­son went the same route with Nel­son Agholor, who was ac­cused of as­sault, and Nigel Brad­ham, who was charged with ag­gra­vated bat­tery to com­mit bod­ily harm and a mis­de­meanor weapons of­fense.

Huff leads the NFL with a 36.0 yard kick­off re­turn aver­age. He will prac­tice this week and play Sun­day against the New York Gi­ants un­less the Ea­gles are told oth­er­wise.

“Noth­ing changes right now,” Ped­er­son said. “It’s out of our hands. It’s a le­gal mat­ter right now and we’ll get more in­for­ma­tion on it. Un­til I find out ex­actly the sever­ity of it and what’s go­ing to hap­pen down the road, we’ll take it one day at a time. I would as­sume and you’ve seen it the past there could be fines, there could be sus­pen­sions, any­thing of that na­ture but again un­til we gather all the in­for­ma­tion we just don’t know.”

Huff seemed an­grier at him­self for let­ting his coaches and team­mates down. To his credit, he an­swered ques­tions from a swarm of re­porters look­ing them squarely in the eye.

Huff said he apol­o­gized to Ea­gles owner Jef­frey Lurie, the coach­ing staff and team­mates “for be­ing a dis­trac­tion to them es­pe­cially right now.

“We don’t need it,” Huff said. “We all have one goal and that’s to win the di­vi­sion first and make it to the play­offs. That’s all I can say right now.”

Huff also had a mes­sage for Josh Huff fans.

“To the young guys out there, I apol­o­gize for my ac­tions yes­ter­day,” Huff said. “That’s not who I am and I hope guys don’t take it that way. I will fix this and learn from it.”

In the locker room, Huff has been char­ac­ter­ized as a good team­mate. He’s helped in the com­mu­nity. He grew up in a dys­func­tional fam­ily, his mother do­ing jail time for ag­gra­vated as­sault with a deadly weapon.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate,” Jenk­ins said. “I know Josh is a good guy. I know where his heart and his mind is. So you just hate to see this hap­pen to him. But at the same time you un­der­stand there’s con­se­quences for ev­ery de­ci­sion you make. And we’re all privy to making bad de­ci­sions ev­ery now and then.”

The hol­low point bul­lets, how­ever, al­ways will res­onate with fans be­cause they’re so de­struc­tive, so ca­pa­ble of pierc­ing body ar­mor. Huff didn’t try to ex­plain why he had to have them.

“I’ve just got to con­tinue to be Josh Huff,” he said. “I can’t let this de­fine me. I won’t let this de­fine me. I will grow from this and will learn from it.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Following his ar­rest Tues­day, Josh Huff apol­o­gized to his coaches, team­mates and fans for be­ing a dis­trac­tion. But the third-year pro is de­fi­ant when it comes to an­swer­ing ques­tions about why he needs to carry a gun and hol­low point bul­lets.

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