Explaining how he made a "terrible decision" on Tuesday when a 9mm handgun and a small amount of marijuana were discovered during a stop for a traffic violation on the Walt Whitman Bridge, Eagles receiver Josh Huff offered his reason for carrying a firearm and six hollow-point bullets in his car.
"I'm a professional athlete. What professional athlete don't have a gun?" Huff said Wednesday by his locker. "I have a wife and I have a son at home, and my job is to protect them at all costs. My job is to protect myself as well."
The Eagles said they would not immediately discipline Huff, who was charged with speeding, possession of a small amount of marijuana, unlawful possession of a weapon, and prohibited weapons/devices. A link to the story of his arrest is here.
Huff practiced Wednesday and will play Sunday against the New York Giants, coach Doug Pederson said. The Eagles are letting the legal process take its course. Huff apologized to owner Jeffrey Lurie, Pederson, and his teammates. He spoke with Pederson on Wednesday and was seen chatting with Lurie at practice.
Huff said he knows his actions have consequences, and he will accept whatever comes his way. That could include discipline from the NFL in addition to any punishment from New Jersey. The state has strict gun laws. Huff said he was aware of those laws, but not aware enough. His gun's permit is from Texas, his home state.
"I felt my life has been threatened, and that's why I have a gun and I have a license," Huff said.
Huff was at the team facility Tuesday morning, but he indicated that the incident did not happen directly after leaving the facility. Huff said he did not have the gun at the facility.
"I'm not Gilbert Arenas, bro," Huff said, referring to the former Washington Wizards player who once brandished a gun in the locker room. "I'm not going to bring a gun on the premises. I'm not going to bring a gun and put my teammates in jeopardy or anything. That's not me. It's solely for protection."
Huff's actions left Pederson spending most of his news conference Wednesday discussing Huff's arrest and a team that has had more than one off-field incident under the coach's watch without any apparent repercussions. Pederson said that he was "disappointed" in his wide receiver but that "it's out of our hands."
He said he needs more information, even though the court complaint offers enough details about what allegedly took place. Pederson said he wants to know "exactly what happened" and "talk to some people," although that simply could mean waiting for due process and the league to get involved. The Eagles could take their own actions, such as keeping Huff inactive this weekend, but there's no indication that it will happen.
Pederson spoke to the team Wednesday about how the players handle their business and compared his job to being the "father of the house." To get the house in order, Pederson said he must "keep talking about" it, and he also must be cognizant about the backgrounds of the players on the team. Huff said there was no team discussion after linebacker Nigel Bradham was arrested for a gun-related incident last month.
"Is it something that I condone? Is it something that I would expect? No, it's not," Pederson said. " ... They need to know that the decisions and choices they make away from this building are going to affect them as a player, it's going to affect eventually the team, and I think eventually it's going to affect their future as a player in the NFL."
Pederson, a hunter who also owns a gun, said he doesn't "necessarily understand why [the players] need guns outside of maybe sport hunting or whatever."
Huff, a Houston native, said "there's always somebody out to get you" in his hometown, which is why he carries a gun. He added there have been several incidents when he has lost friends to gun violence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Huff apologized for the distraction the incident is causing his teammates before an important game. He said that this won't "define" him, that he let his teammates down, and that he will try to rebuild his reputation.
The incident resulted after a traffic stop. So why was he speeding across the Walt Whitman Bridge?