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November 03, 2016

Howie Roseman's full comments on Eagles' decision to release WR Josh Huff

Eagles NFL
110314_Howie-Roseman_AP Michael Perez/AP

Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.

On Thursday, just over 24 hours after Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson threw his support behind wide receiver Josh Huff, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stood at the same podium answering questions about why the team suddenly changed course and decided to part ways with the third-year wideout and return specialist.

Huff, who was arrested Tuesday when a traffic stop led to the discovery of marijuana and a 9mm handgun in his car, practiced on Wednesday and, at least according to the rookie coach's comments from a day earlier, was expected to play this weekend against the Giants.

That, however, is no longer the case.

What caused the sudden change of heart? Did new information come to light? Was it simply a reaction to public perception? Did Huff's comments following Wednesday's practice have anything to do with it?

There were a lot of questions that needed answering. 

Here are Roseman's full comments, although some will likely leave you wondering if they're even answers at all. 

Opening: “Over the last 48 hours, we spent a lot of time discussing this as an organization, going through our process and gathering information.”

What changed since yesterday? “For us, we just want to go through a process, gather all the information and then sit down and make the decision as an organization that we think is right for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Why did you decide to release him? “For us, based on the circumstances and the facts involved, it was the right thing to do for our football team.”

Who made the decision? “We met -- Jeffrey [Lurie], Don [Smolenski], myself, and Coach [Pederson]. We made the decision together.”

Did Huff’s comments Wednesday play a role? “No. This situation was about gathering all the information and trying to do what we thought was right for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Did more new information come available since Doug spoke? “We spent a lot of time over the last 48 hours just making sure that we had the information and that we weren’t rushing to judgment. And then we have a process in place for these sort of things that could lead us to what we think is the right decision.”

Did Josh have a gun on the premises? “Josh told us that he did not.”

Did you find out that he did? “No.”

Did you pursue that further and do you have a regulation against that? “It’s a league policy about having weapons at the facility.”

There have been several off-field incidents, why Josh Huff? “We have to take each of these separately, examine the facts that we have and go through a process, and then make a decision in the best interest of this organization.”

Why was this more severe than Bradham's? “The facts situation and the circumstances in this one were different than Nigel.”

Was there any pressure from the league to do anything? “No.”

Were you all on board with the decision or was there back and forth discussion first? “Everyone was on board with the decision. That’s why we made the decision. And over the last 48 hours, when we go though our process, we talk to a lot of people and again, there’s no science to this. We have a process and we try to do what’s right.”

Do you have more info than what’s publicly available (via police report)? “I think we’re comfortable with the information we have that led to the decision.”

When Doug spoke yesterday, did you believe at the time that you were going to keep him and some new information changed it or was it still up in the air? “When you look at the timeline from Tuesday to now, we were continuing to gather information. We didn’t want to just rely on media reports. We want to be thoughtful in how we were making this decision. So all day yesterday, we were really spending a lot of time through last night and into this morning when we finally made the final decision.”

Was there any consideration into how that would make Doug look though -- when he came up here and said he’s going to embrace the players and now all the sudden a day later, here you are releasing him? “I think that we all care about Josh Huff. We care about the players on our team. That’s the business we are in. We spend a lot of time with them and these decisions are hard, but we have to do what is right for the Philadelphia Eagles.“

Considering you’ve invested a third-round pick in him and he’s really found a niche as a kick returner, how disappointing is it to have to do this in the middle of the season? “I think that’s the right word. I think it’s disappointing that we had to stand up here and do this, but we’re trying to build something and we’re trying to build something that lasts. And some of that means that we’re going to have to make some hard decisions. All we can do is what we think is right for the Philadelphia Eagles.” 

Did you give any consideration to, by changing course after Doug had laid out his policy on this stuff, that you run the risk of making the head coach look weak and ineffective? “Our No. 1 priority is to do what’s right for this team and Coach [Pederson] is 100 percent on board with this and doing that. And at the same time, while we’re going through the process, we also have to do things sometimes to protect the outcome and we don’t want to get to the outcome without going through the process.”

How disappointed are you that Josh put himself in this situation? “I think again, I go back to the word -- just ‘disappointed’ that we’re standing here right now discussing this as we’re playing a big game this week. There’s no doubt that he was coming along as a player and that he helps this team, but we have to do what’s in the best interest of this organization, this building and the 63 guys -- we have a lot of responsibility here and we don’t take that lightly.

What’s the precedent you set with this? “I think that’s for you guys to infer and discuss.”

How is this going to play in the locker room? He’s got a lot of friends in there -- did you or Doug talk to them yet? “In the last 48 hours, we spent a lot of time with a lot of people in this building, discussing this and going over the scenarios and we’ve got a lot of good people in this building. And they want to do what’s right as we move forward here and try to build something.”

How did you inform Josh? “Coach and I met with Josh, together, this morning. And we just told him in person. Obviously a tough conversation for all of us.”

How did he handle it? “I think it’s important we keep the specifics of the conversation [private], but it’s a hard thing to do on all of us. It’s the hardest part of this business.”

Is this a cumulative effect, with the fact that there were prior incidents with other players? Did that influence your decision? “We try to take every incident individually, go through a process and make a decision that’s right for the Philadelphia Eagles?”

How does this differ from Nigel’s incident? They’re both involving firearm -- he actually had two episodes. “Very different set of circumstances and obviously we have to go through all of those when we do that to make the best decision for us.”

Did the level of charges factor into this, the fact that he’s quite likely facing jail time? “Again, we have a process that we go through. We look at all the information we have and then we try to make the best decision for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Of the charges, what sets this off, what really bugs this organization? “I think when we went through the whole process, we thought this was the right decision for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

That doesn’t answer it specifically. “I don’t know that there’s a reason to get into specifics other than we thought this was the right decision for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

In the offseason, you guys signed some players that had off-field issues in the past, do you think this is a result of that? “I would just take this specific instance and how we felt here. And again, when we went through the last 48 hours and gathered all the facts and information, we thought this was the right decision.”

Concern moving forward with other players that something like this could happen again? “No. Obviously, I can’t predict the future but we feel like we have a good group and we’re headed in the right direction.”

Has his spot on the roster been filled yet? “No.”

Will it be filled by Sunday? “Yes.”

What’s the team policy on guns? “There’s a league policy on guns, but again, I think I’d like to keep it to this specific example with Josh and we wish him well as he moves forward here.”

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin