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The Damon Huard Interview

Last week, I sat down with legendary Husky quarterback Damon Huard. Here’s what he had to say!

Damon Huard
11 Nov 1995: Quarterback Damon Huard of the Washington Huskies passes the ball during a game against the California at Los Angeles Bruins at Rose Bowl in Pasadena. California. Washington won the game 38-14
Stephen Dunn/Staff

Earlier this month, I went to a UW alumni event in Spokane where UW lead radio play-by-play voice Tony Castricone and legendary UW quarterback Damon Huard were the keynote speakers. Both men were kind enough to give me a few minutes of their time to talk about the Huskies. First up is Huard’s interview. We talked Husky football, both past and present, Damon’s experience in the NFL, and the modern Husky offense.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Mark Schafer: I know recruiting has changed since you were recruited out of high school. You were a freshman in 91 and then you redshirted. So talk to me about your recruitment process and what that was like.

Damon Huard: Yeah, it was pretty cool back then, the Huskies were rolling. They’d been to two straight Rose Bowls, you know, growing up in the greater Seattle area, I had a huge affinity for Don James. the DawgFather as we all know him, there’s just a winning program right in my backyard, you know, as a quarterback, all the Husky quarterbacks there: Warren Moon, Steve Pelluer, Tom Flick, Chris Chandler. All these guys were going on to play in the NFL. So I knew if I had a chance to play at some point in my career and play at a high level, I’d probably get that opportunity too. There were a couple other schools I was looking at, but at the end of the day, I was always gonna be a Husky and I’m glad I stayed home and had the career I did.

MS: In 1994, you go to the Orange Bowl in Miami where they hadn’t lost in 58 straight games, and on the other side you got Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp. So that’s gotta be pretty intimidating for a quarterback. Just walk me through what that entire week of practice was like.

DH: I remember, could you imagine today, a season starting out their first four games of the year: we were at USC, home against Ohio State, at Miami, home against UCLA.

MS: Wow!

DH: That was the month of September. We didn’t get to play any FCS schools, we knew coming out the gate that this was gonna be a brutal schedule. And there was a big picture of all them cats from Miami in Sports Illustrated in the preseason schedule. And it was Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis, I mean, they had some dudes! So that week leading up to the game, we left early to get down there and so many of us had never been east of the Rocky Mountains. You know, back then you didn’t travel as frequently as people do today. And I remember landing there and getting off that airplane and I had never felt humidity in my life. I mean, nothing even remotely close to that. It was so hot, and we did the walkthrough. We’re all just sweating. And, I even remember throughout the course of that game, like I couldn’t really grip the football. I made some good throws, but I made some bad throws and a lot of ‘em were pretty wobbly. I didn’t have a very good spiral, but it was so sweaty and so hot.

And we got in there at halftime and we were losing and it was like, man, I want a cold shower. But we came out there that third quarter and I think we scored 21 points in the first three minutes of that game. And then we absolutely just wore them down, Napoleon Kaufman, Richard Thomas. I mean, it was just a magical, magical team win, you know, special teams, creating turnovers. I got to be the quarterback that day, but it was really just the ultimate team win, in all three phases, that just ended their 58 game home winning streak. And, probably, the highlight of my college career.

MS: So you got to the NFL, you backed up Dan Marino, you backed up Tom Brady, but you also played in Europe. What was your favorite memory from professional football?

DH: Yeah, I got a lot of great memories. You know, my first time playing in 99, we’re playing at the New England Patriots. Dan gets hurt. It’s really my first opportunity. It was early in the first quarter. My first pass was a pick six to Ty Law. Dan threw a pick six, we were down 14-0. But over the course of that game, I scratched, I clawed. I’m looking across the line of scrimmage, Lawyer Milloy, my college teammate, is the safety. Willie McGinest is the D-End, from USC, my rival from college. Chad Eaton is my high school rival from Rogers High School in Puyallup, also Wazzu. So there’s all these weird connections. Pete Carroll’s the head coach of the Patriots.

Over the course of that game, they sacked me nine times, but I also scrambled for 80 yards and with a minute left, I hit Stanley Pritchett in the corner of the end zone.

The Dolphins beat the Patriots that day. My first career time playing, 31-30, I think the score was. And I did not need an airplane to fly back home to Miami. So my first real experience playing, and then I got to start the next five games. We went 4-1 and then really that solidified my NFL career, and I proved that I could come off the bench, win a game and I was always gonna find a home for… until I was 35 years old. And I did, and, and really, yes, I was a career backup, but I like to think that I wasn’t a journeyman because in all my stops, like I was there. I was in Miami for four. I was in New England for three, and I was in Kansas City for five.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

So it was really like kind of going to college at all three places where, you know, some of these quarterbacks that play 10, 12 years, they’re on seven or eight teams. I really was on three teams. And yes, I was a backup for a lot of those spots, but especially at the end in Kansas City, I started the better part of my last two seasons.

MS: Yeah.

DH: Had a bunch of success in 06, So yes, I was a journeyman backup quarterback, but I was a mainstay at my stops and had some great success. So that was fun.

MS: Kansas City, you’re like in your late thirties at that point, and you go, what, 5-3 as a starter when Trent Green gets hurt?

DH: Yeah. So I had an awesome run that year and it was great at the end of my career getting to play a bunch. I just wasn’t the backup. So it leaves a good taste in your mouth when the game finally retires you. So I was blessed, blessed to play on great teams with some of the greatest quarterbacks to ever do it. The greatest quarterback in Tom Brady. A part of two Super Bowls, you know, just very blessed in my football journey.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Arizona Cardinals - October 8, 2006 Photo by Rich Gabrielson/NFLPhotoLibrary

MS: I know that you were kind of a pro-style quarterback but with this Husky offense, what kind of numbers do you think you could put up?

DH: Oh man. These guys got it rolling. I mean, Coach Deboer and this system, they do such a great job. Pre-snap with all the movements and shifts, really makes a defense predictable and uncomfortable. And what we noticed last year, really for the first time in a while, is just how they get guys open. You know, and certainly these are great athletes too. I mean, we are so deep at receiver Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, Giles (Jackson), I mean, Germie Bernard now, Denzel Boston. I mean, we’re six deep at receiver. And they love to spread it out. So we didn’t do that back in the day, we were gonna run Napoleon Kaufman and control the clock, control the line of scrimmage, control our defense. But today’s college football, man, when you get these kinds of weapons and obviously Michael Penix, they’re doing a lot of neat stuff. I would’ve died to play in this offense!

MS: That’s awesome! So, I know where this is going, but I’m gonna ask it anyway. Who’s the better quarterback: you, Brock or Luke?

DH: Well, you know, I think if you got all three of us out there, like Brock threw the prettiest ball, you know, he was 6’6”. He had the tightest ball, but I could take a hit a little bit better. So I played a little bit longer than him. Luke was probably the most physical, he could run guys over. I mean, he could have played tight end too. But, the question is really for my Dad, who coached us all, and got to watch us all play and a tough one to answer. But I think Pops might say that I might have been the most natural!