NFL players are adults. They make their own decisions and must own up to them.
Doug Pederson, head coach of the Eagles who has dealt with off-field incidents a half dozen times now in less than a full season at the helm as a rookie head coach, is doing the best he can.
“I can’t control what you do outside,” the coach said Wednesday. “Once you leave here, I don’t know what you are going to do. Now, I’m not responsible for you, but I can’t control what you do once you leave these premises. Neither can the Philadelphia Eagles control what I do once I leave these premises.”
Josh Huff, wide receiver and kick returner, was pulled over and arrested on the Walt Whitman Bridge Tuesday. After spending the day in jail, he paid $25,000 bail and is likely facing charges of a DUI (he was reportedly smoking marijuana in the vehicle), possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana and several possible weapons charges stemming from a handgun that was in the car. He had it registered in Texas but not New Jersey. He also had six hollow-point bullets. Reports suggest he was open and forthcoming with the arresting officer.
Pederson has handled legal issues with linebacker Nigel Bradham and Nelson Agholor. He had to handle the baggage that came with the trade for Dorial Green-Backham, and the off-field quarterback controversy when Sam Bradford refused to attend practices this summer. And with Lane Johnson awaiting his inevitable 10-game suspension.
Pederson didn’t waiver.
He wants to keep it out of thebuilding, give his players the benefit of the doubt and move forward until he hears otherwise.
“I just know who I am as person, and I try to relay that to the team and just let them know that, hey, guys, you have to [know] the spotlight is on us,” Pederson said.”In this city, in this market, the spotlight is on everything we do. You have to be smart. You have to make right choices. You have to do things differently. You just have to do them differently because everything is magnified.”
Several players, particularly fellow wideoutJordan Matthews, voiced support for Huff, as did the head coach. With so many players coming from so many backgrounds and situations, it’s hard to be there for everyone at once.
“My job, too, sometimes is to be that father figure for some of these players and understanding their history and where they’ve come from and how they grew up,” the coach said.”It may not be how I grew up as a child or as an adolescent or a teen — whatever. But at the same time, I’m going to wrap my arm around them and love on them and try to show them the right direction.”
Huff, Pederson says, will suit up Sunday against the Giants and will have his regular spot in the wide receiver and kickoff rotation.