Herzog says his ouster "was a money thing"
Monday's Frank Herzog tribute on WTOP was a marvelous hour of radio, featuring call-ins from Wes Unseld, Ron Weber, Johnny Holliday, Joe Gibbs and Darrell Green, Sonny and Sam, among others. As for the fan subtext -- that Herzog should have been allowed to retire from being the Voice of the Redskins on his own terms -- it raised only twice by distinguished guests: at the beginning by John Riggins, and at the end by Mark Plotkin.
"Frank Herzog is a hero," said Plotkin, WTOP's resident political analyst and rabble-rouser. "I used to listen to Jack Brickhouse for the Chicago Bears, and Jack Brickhouse is nothing compared to Frank Herzog. And I think in the name of really sort of bringing Washington back together, the owner of the Washington Redskins should first apologize and then - I'm being serious - and ask Frank Herzog back. Nobody can remember the name of the person that replaced you. If he apologized and called you and said, 'Frank we need you, would you come back?'..."
"Once a troublemaker, always a troublemaker," Herzog said with a chuckle.
"No, I'm serious," Plotkin insisted.
"Never changes, does it?" Herzog said, again refusing to go there.
"Frank I have to say, many of the e-mails that we got were from people who really miss you calling the Redskins games..." attempted Mark Segraves, the program's host.
"I'll tell you this," Herzog finally said. "The thing that I've seen in my 40 years is teams change. Coaches change. Players come and go. It all changes. The one thing that never changes: the fan. They're always there."
That, folks, is called finding the high road, and then leaping 20 feet above it. My colleague Paul Farhi got in touch with Herzog after the show, and pressed him on this matter.
"It was a money thing," Herzog said, explaining that WJFK was behind the decision, and not the Redskins.
"They wanted to use one of their employees, who had other responsibilities, so they could save one salary," he said. As for Snyder: "He did all he could. I saw him later, and he looked me in the eye and shook my hand and said, 'I don't interfere with the decisions of other companies. It's their call to make.' "
On the other hand, he misses the Redskins. "If they were to ask me back, I'd think about it," he says. And after thinking about, he adds, "Yeah, I'd go back."
This is the same basic story Leonard Shapiro reported back when the switch was made, which obviously hasn't stopped fans from placing the blame elsewhere. Here was from Shapiro's article at the time:
Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said the team had no role in the decision.
"We were notified by Alan today that they decided to make the change," Swanson said. "We had no input and wouldn't want any input. It's their business in how they choose to staff it....If they had asked us, and they didn't, we would have pointed to Larry. He's been very involved in their broadcasts and knows this team very well."
"I really do think it was the station's decision," Herzog said. "I'd never had any indication the Redskins were dissatisfied, not from Dan Snyder, not from anyone else over there."
Speaking of Herzog, Swanson added: "It's always a shame when a legend steps out of the role. But he's still a force on Channel 9 and we're glad we'll still be working with him."
But that's all messy and yucky. Let's close with something happier. And really, if you care about this sort of stuff, you must listen to this radio broadcast.
"When I think about Frank, I think about a guy with the total package," said Holliday, himself one of the nicest men in town. "He could do everything, and nobody could do it better. I had the pleasure of being with Frank and Sonny and Sam for 12 years at another station, doing the pre-game just to build up to them.
"And the one thing I always will remember -- and I hope young broadcasters will take account of -- is the fact that Frank is nice to everybody. he's always got time for everybody. He'd never big-time anybody. He's always remained, I think, very very humble. And you could tell that by the tributes from the people who have called in today, and you can tell that from Frank's response. I think Washington will miss him tremendously."
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