Apologetic Huff defends his right to bear arms
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.”
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.