Sam Huff

Robert Lee "Sam" Huff (born October 4, 1934) is a former professional American football linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982. He played college football for the West Virginia Mountaineers football team and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Sam Huff
refer to caption
Huff from The Monticola, 1955
No. 70
Position:Linebacker
Personal information
Born:October 4, 1934 (age 84)
Edna, West Virginia
Career information
High school:Farmington (WV)
College:West Virginia
NFL Draft:1956 / Round: 3 / Pick: 30
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interceptions:30
Touchdowns:5
Fumbles recovered:17
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Early life

Huff was born and grew up in the No. 9 coal mining camp[1] in Edna, West Virginia,[2] The fourth child of six for Oral and Catherine Huff, he lived with his family in a small rowhouse with no running water.[3] Huff grew up during the Great Depression, while his father and two of his brothers worked in the coal mines loading buggies for Consolidated Mining.[4]

Huff attended and played high school football at the now-closed Farmington High School, where he was both an offensive and defensive lineman.[5] While he was there, Huff helped lead the team to an undefeated season in 1951.[6] He earned All-State honors in 1952 and was named to the first-team All-Mason Dixon Conference.[6]

College career

Huff attended and played college football at West Virginia University, where he majored in physical education.[7] He started at guard as a sophomore and tackle the next two years, after winning a letter as a backup guard during his freshman season.[8] He was a four-year letterman and helped lead West Virginia to a combined four-year mark of 31-7 and a berth in the Sugar Bowl.[8]

In 1955, Huff was voted an All-American[8] and served as co-captain in both the East–West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.[9] Huff was also named first team Academic All-American for his outstanding efforts in the classroom.

Professional career

New York Giants (1956–1963)

Huff was drafted in the third round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. In training camp, head coach Jim Lee Howell was having a hard time coming up with a position for Huff.[10] Discouraged, Huff left camp but was stopped at the airport by assistant coach Vince Lombardi, who coaxed him back to camp.[10]

Then, defensive coordinator Tom Landry came up with the new 4–3 defensive scheme that he thought would fit Huff perfectly.[4][11] The Giants switched him from the line to middle linebacker behind Ray Beck. Huff liked the position because he could keep his head up and use his superb peripheral vision to see the whole field.[3] On October 7, 1956 in a game against the Chicago Cardinals, Beck was injured and Huff was put into his first professional game. He then helped the Giants win five consecutive games[4] and they finished with an 8–3–1 record, which gave them the Eastern Conference title.[3] New York went on to win the 1956 NFL Championship Game[4] and Huff became the first rookie middle linebacker to start an NFL championship game.[3]

In 1958, the Giants again won the East and Huff played in the 1958 NFL Championship Game.[3] The championship, which became widely known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played", was the first ever National Football League (NFL) game to go into sudden death overtime.[13] The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17.[3]

In 1959, Huff and the Giants again went to the NFL Championship Game, which ended in a 31–16 loss to the Colts. Also that year, Huff became the first NFL player to be featured on the cover of Time magazine[8][10] on November 30, 1959. He almost passed up the magazine appearance, demanding money to be interviewed, but relented when Time agreed to give him the cover portrait.[3] Huff was also the subject of an October 31, 1960 CBS television special, "The Violent World of Sam Huff",[8][10] broadcast as an episode of the Walter Cronkite-hosted anthology series The Twentieth Century. The network wired Huff for sound in practice and in an exhibition game.[3]

The Giants then visited the championship under new coach Allie Sherman in 1961, 1962, and 1963, but lost every one of them.[3] To improve what he thought was a defensive problem, Sherman then traded many defensive players, including Cliff Livingston, Rosey Grier, and Dick Modzelewski. After these trades, Huff went to owner Wellington Mara and was assured he would not be traded.[3] But in 1964, Giants head coach Allie Sherman traded Huff to the Washington Redskins for defensive tackle Andy Stynchula and running back Dick James.[3][4] The trade made front-page news in New York City and was greeted with jeers from Giants fans, who crowded Yankee Stadium yelling "Huff-Huff-Huff-Huff."[4]

Huff played in four consecutive Pro Bowls with the Giants from 1959 through 1963. He was named most valuable player of the 1961 Pro Bowl.[4]

Washington Redskins (1964–1967, 1969)

Huff joined the Redskins in 1964 and they agreed to pay him $30,000 in salary and $5,000 for scouting, compared to the $19,000 he would have made another year with New York.[3] The impact Huff had was almost immediate and the Redskins' defense was ranked second in the NFL in 1965.[14]

On November 27, 1966, Huff and the Redskins beat his former Giant teammates 72–41, in the highest-scoring game in league history.[14] After an ankle injury in 1967 ended his streak of 150 straight games played[14] Huff retired in 1968.[4]

Vince Lombardi talked Huff out of retirement in 1969 when he was named Washington's head coach.[4] The Redskins went 7-5-2 and had their best season since 1955 (which kept Lombardi's record of never having coached a losing NFL team intact).[15] Huff then retired for good after 14 seasons and 30 career interceptions.[3] He spent one season coaching the Redskins' linebackers in 1970.[14]

After football

Business

After leaving the NFL, Huff took a position with J.P. Stevens in New York as a textiles sales representative. He later joined the Marriott Corporation as a salesman in 1971, rising to vice president of sports marketing before retiring in 1998.[3] While with Marriott, Huff was responsible for selling over 600,000 room nights via a partnership between the NFL and Marriott that booked teams into Marriott branded hotels for away games.

Commentator

After retiring from football, Huff spent three seasons as a color commentator for the Giants radio team and then moved on in the same capacity for the Redskins Radio Network, where he remained until his retirement at the end of the 2012 season, calling games alongside former Redskins teammate Sonny Jurgensen and play-by-play announcers Frank Herzog (1979 to 2004) and Larry Michael (2005 to 2012).[8] He was also a broadcaster for a regionally syndicated TV package of Mountaineer football games in the mid-1980s.[8]

Honors

In 1982, Huff became the second WVU player to be inducted into both the College and Pro football Halls of Fame.[8] In 1988, he was inducted into the WVU School of Physical Education Hall of Fame and, in 1991 he was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.[8]

In 1999, Huff was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame[6] and was ranked number 76 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.[16]

In 2001, Huff was ranked number six on Sports Illustrated's list of West Virginia's 50 Greatest Athletes.[17] On November 24, 2005, Huff's uniform number 75 was retired by West Virginia University.

Horse breeding and racing

In 1986 Huff began breeding Thoroughbred racehorses at Sporting Life Farm in Middleburg, Virginia. His filly, Bursting Forth, won the 1998 Matchmaker Handicap.

Politics

In 1970, Huff ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives,[5] but lost in the West Virginia Democratic primary[3] for the 1st district against Bob Mollohan by more than 19,000 votes.[4]

Personal

Huff is divorced from Mary Helen Fletcher. They have three children, Robert Lee ("Sam") Huff Jr., Catherine Ann, Joseph D.

References

  1. ^ "Coal Miners--an essay". Appalachian Blacksmiths Association. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  2. ^ "Mountaineer Flashback – Sam Huff". WTRF-TV. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The Violent World". ESPN. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Profile: Sam Huff". WVU Varsity Club. Archived from the original on December 9, 2002. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Farmington's Sam Huff went from zero to hero". Times West Virginian. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c "National High School Hall of Fame". National Federation of State High School Associations. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  7. ^ "A Man's Game". Time Magazine. November 30, 1959. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Robert "Sam" Huff: Academy of Distinguished Alumni". West Virginia University. Archived from the original on May 22, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  9. ^ "Sam Huff". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d "Sam Huff's Pro Football HOF profile". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  11. ^ "Building America's Team". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  12. ^ "Describing 'The Innovator'". The Sporting News. Archived from the original on 2005-12-01. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  13. ^ "Greatest game ever played". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
  14. ^ a b c d "Flashback: Huff Changed the NFL Game". Washington Redskins. Archived from the original on July 10, 2008. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
  15. ^ "Redskins History: 1960". Washington Redskins. Archived from the original on June 13, 2008. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
  16. ^ "Football's 100 Greatest Players". Sporting News. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  17. ^ "W.Va.'s 50 Greatest Athletes". WVSPN. Retrieved June 29, 2008.

External links

1955 College Football All-America Team

The 1955 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1955. The eight selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1955 season are (1) the All-America Board (AAB), (2) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), (3) the Associated Press, (4) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), (5) the International News Service (INS), (6) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), (7) the Sporting News (SN), and (8) the United Press (UP).

1956 NFL Championship Game

In the 1956 National Football League Championship Game was the league's 24th championship game, played at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx in New York City on December 30.The New York Giants (8–3–1) won the Eastern Conference title and hosted the Chicago Bears (9–2–1), the Western Conference champions. The teams had met in the regular season five weeks earlier on November 25 at Yankee Stadium and played to a 17–17 tie; the Bears entered the championship game in late December as slight favorites. The Giants hosted because the home field for the title game alternated between the conferences; home field advantage was not implemented until 1975.

Both teams had been absent from the league title game for a decade, when the Bears won the championship over the Giants at the Polo Grounds in 1946. The Giants' most recent NFL title was before World War II, in 1938. The 1956 season marked the Giants' first at Yankee Stadium, moving across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds. This was the first championship since 1949 without the Cleveland Browns, who had appeared in six consecutive since joining the NFL in 1950.

The 1956 Giants featured a number of Hall of Fame players, including running backs Frank Gifford and Alex Webster, offensive tackle Roosevelt Brown, linebacker Sam Huff, and defensive end Andy Robustelli. Two assistants of Giants head coach Jim Lee Howell, offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi and defensive coordinator Tom Landry, later became Hall of Fame head coaches with other franchises; Lombardi coached the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships during the 1960s and Landry led the Dallas Cowboys to five Super Bowls, with two wins, during the 1970s. He was the head coach of the Cowboys for 29 seasons, through 1988.

1956 New York Giants season

The 1956 New York Giants season was the franchise's 32nd season in the National Football League. After finishing with an 8–3–1 record, the Giants won their fourth league title by defeating the Chicago Bears 47–7 in the NFL championship game. It was their first NFL title in eighteen years; the Giants did not win another for thirty more.

1961 Pro Bowl

The 1961 Pro Bowl was the NFL's eleventh annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1960 season. The game was played on January 15, 1961, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in front of 62,971 fans. The final score was West 35, East 31.The coaches were Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers and Buck Shaw of the Philadelphia Eagles. This game marked the end of the great career of Norm Van Brocklin. The Eagles' quarterback was playing in his final game after 12 seasons, having been named the coach of the expansion Minnesota Vikings. Van Brocklin was angry that the Eagles had not named him head coach, which he said they had promised following the retirement of Buck Shaw.Jim Taylor scored a record three touchdowns, and Van Brocklin established Pro Bowl records for passing with 288 yards and three touchdowns. Yet fan favorite Johnny Unitas was voted the game’s outstanding back for the second season in a row and the Giants' Sam Huff took the lineman honors.

1963 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press National Football League's All-Pro Team in 1963.

Players from the first and second teams are listed, with players from the first team in bold, where applicable.

1965 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of National Football League (American football) players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team in 1965. Players from the first and second teams are listed, with players from the first team in bold, where applicable.

1969 Washington Redskins season

The 1969 Washington Redskins season was the franchise's 38th season in the National Football League. The team improved on their 5–9 record from 1968, by hiring legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi. Sam Huff (a future member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame) came out of retirement specifically to play for Lombardi and finished with a record of 7–5–2.

Erich Barnes

Erich Theodore Barnes ( EE-ritch; born July 4, 1935) was an American football defensive back in the National Football League. He was a six-time Pro Bowler. Before the NFL, he was an outstanding all-around athlete at Purdue University (1956–58), where one of his teammates was future NFL star quarterback Len Dawson.

Barnes was drafted in the fourth round by the Bears in the 1958 NFL Draft and traded to the Giants in 1961. He tied an NFL record in his first season with the Giants by intercepting a pass against the Cowboys and returning it 102 yards for a touchdown. In the 1962 NFL Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers in New York, the Giants tried to redeem themselves from a 37-0 shellacking by the Packers in the 1961 title game. However, they lost again to Lombardi's Packers on a fiercely windy and cold day in Yankee Stadium. Barnes set up the only scoring for the Giants when he blocked a punt that was recovered by Giants teammate Jim Collier in the end zone in a 16-7 loss.Barnes was known as an aggressive, physical player, and is the Giants record holder for longest interception return after scoring on a 102-yard return against the Dallas Cowboys in 1961.After the 1964 season, the Giants traded him to the Cleveland Browns—his favorite team as a child—for linebacker Mike Lucci and a 1966 third round draft pick which the Giants then traded to Detroit for quarterback Earl Morrall. This trade further aggravated the demise of a once stellar Giants defense that had already lost standouts Sam Huff and Dick Modzelewski, who was also traded to the Browns and an integral component of their 1964 NFL championship team after the 1963 season.

While with the Browns, Barnes was known for standing at the goalpost (then stationed at the goal line) and blocking field goal attempts (a practice later outlawed in the NFL).

After his football career, Barnes went on to work in the New York City area as a corporate special events planner. He was elected to the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Purdue University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2012, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mike Pettica ranked Barnes as the #63 player in Browns' history (counting only what players did playing for Cleveland).

The Professional Football Researchers Association named Barnes to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2013 In November 1963, Barnes appeared as one of the impostors on the panel game show To Tell the Truth, claiming to be a sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Tom Poston was particularly chagrined at not having recognized Barnes, who fooled two of the four panelists.

Frank Herzog

Frank Herzog is a former American sportscaster, best known for his role as a play-by-play announcer for Washington Redskins radio broadcasts from 1979 to 2004, where he teamed with Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen. His trademark was to announce every Redskins touchdown with the phrase, "Touchdown, Washington Redskins!"In addition to his Redskins work, Herzog called games for the Washington Bullets, Maryland Terrapins basketball, and college football and basketball on the CBS network. He also worked for a number of Washington, D.C.-area television stations including WTOP, WJLA, and WUSA. Herzog also has had minor parts in a few films, including 2009's State of Play, starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck.He retired from his news anchor job with WTOP radio in March 2010.

He Is Legend

He Is Legend is an American rock band from Wilmington, North Carolina. The band's lineup is front man Schuylar Croom, guitarist Adam Tanbouz, bassist Matt Williams, and drummer Jesse Shelley.

Jim Lee Howell

James Lee Howell (September 27, 1914 – January 4, 1995) was an American football player and coach for the National Football League's New York Giants. Howell was born in Arkansas and played college football and basketball at the University of Arkansas. He was drafted by the Giants in the 1937 NFL Draft and played wide receiver and defensive back from 1937 to 1947. While playing for the Giants, He was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives representing Lonoke County in 1940 and served one term during the January to March 1941 session of the legislature. After his playing career ended, he was head coach for Wagner College football.

Howell returned to the Giants in 1954 as head coach, succeeding fan, media and player favorite Steve Owen. Howell quickly hired Vince Lombardi as his offensive coordinator and shortly after converted Tom Landry from player to defensive coordinator. From 1954 to 1960, the Giants played in three NFL Championship Games, defeating George Halas’s Chicago Bears in 1956 by the score of 47–7.

During Howell's seven seasons as head coach, he earned a career 53–27–4 record, with a .663 winning percentage. He drafted and coached a roster of stars including six future Pro Football Hall of Famers, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Rosey Brown, Emlen Tunnell, Frank Gifford and Don Maynard. Although his conservative, defense-oriented style was unpopular with the fans and media, the Giants' success on the field was more satisfying. Several other players from this era went on to become head coaches and broadcasters.

Howell played and coached in an era when football went from a relatively simple game to one of great complexity with schemes, formations and playbooks designed to deceive as much as over power. With future Hall of Famers Lombardi and Landry as coordinators, Howell's job was frequently to play the diplomat within his own team.

Howell stayed with the team as Director of Player Personnel until his retirement in 1981. He died on January 4, 1995 in Lonoke, Arkansas.

The Professional Football Researchers Association named Howell to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2007

Jim Taylor (fullback)

James Charles Taylor (September 20, 1935 – October 13, 2018) was an American football fullback who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for ten seasons, with the Green Bay Packers from 1958 to 1966 and with the expansion New Orleans Saints in 1967. With the Packers, Taylor was invited to five straight Pro Bowls and won four NFL championships, as well as a victory in the first Super Bowl. He was recognized as the NFL Most Valuable Player after winning the rushing title in 1962, beating out Jim Brown. An aggressive player and fluent trash talker, Taylor developed several personal rivalries throughout his career, most notably with New York Giants linebacker Sam Huff. This confrontational attitude, combined with his tenacious running style, a penchant for contact, and ability to both withstand and deliver blows, earned him a reputation as one of the league's toughest players.

Playing college football for Louisiana State University (LSU), Taylor led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in scoring in 1956 and 1957 and earned first-team All-America honors as a senior. He was selected by the Packers in the second round of the 1958 NFL Draft and was used sparingly as a rookie, but with the arrival of coach Vince Lombardi in 1959 Taylor soon became the team's all-purpose back, especially when only a few yards were needed. In this role, his spirited performance against the Giants in the 1962 NFL Championship Game came to define his mental and physical toughness.

Taylor finished his career after carrying 1,941 times for 8,597 yards and 83 touchdowns. He was the first player to record five straight seasons of at least 1,000 rushing yards. His 81 rushing touchdowns for the Packers remains a franchise record by a wide margin, and his 8,207 rushing yards with the team has been surpassed only once. Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976. He is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and his number 31 jersey is retired by the Saints.

List of NFC Championship Game broadcasters

The following is a list of the television and radio networks and announcers who have broadcast the National Football Conference Championship Game throughout the years. The years listed concentrate on the season instead of the calendar year that the game took place. The forerunner to the NFC Championship Game (prior to the 1970 AFL–NFL merger) was the NFL Championship Game.

List of New York Giants broadcasters

This article is a list of New York Giants broadcasters. As of 2008, the New York Giants' flagship radio station is WFAN 660 AM, the oldest all-sports radio station in the United States. Some games in August and September are moved to WXRK 92.3 FM due to conflicts with the New York Mets baseball team. Since 2008 the broadcast features play-by-play man Bob Papa and color commentator Carl Banks, with Howard Cross reporting from the sidelines and Russ Salzberg and Roman Oben hosting the pregame show.

Preseason telecasts not seen nationally air in the area on WNBC, "NBC 4 HD."

Lombardi (film)

Lombardi is a 2010 documentary film surrounding Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Vince Lombardi produced by NFL Films and HBO. The documentary is one of three productions detailing Lombardi, along with a Broadway theatre and ESPN feature film. Besides focusing on his coaching career with the Green Bay Packers, it also details his playing days at Fordham University and being part of the Seven Blocks of Granite offensive line, along with being a high school coach and teacher at Englewood, New Jersey's St. Cecilia High School. Among the people interviewed are Lombardi's children and Hall of Famers Sam Huff, Frank Gifford, Bart Starr and Sonny Jurgensen. HBO found many of the clips in the documentary at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The documentary was aired at Lambeau Field on November 18, the Pro Football Hall of Fame on November 27, and the College Football Hall of Fame on December 1 before airing on HBO on December 11.The documentary won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Documentary.

Nicholas Webster

Nicholas Webster (July 24, 1912 – August 12, 2006) was an American film and television director. Chiefly remembered for his CBS program The Violent World of Sam Huff (1960; featuring the first use of a wireless microphone on television); the ABC Close Up documentary Walk in My Shoes (1961), nominated for an Emmy as the best television program of the year, it was the first time the story of African Americans was told in their own words on television; Purlie Victorious (1963; also known as Gone Are the Days!), the film version of Ossie Davis' acclaimed stage play starring Davis, Ruby Dee, and Alan Alda in his first film role); and the feature film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), a children's favorite for more than 40 years and noteworthy to trivia buffs as Pia Zadora's first film. It was originally reviewed as "a children's film adults won't mind sitting through", though it was later listed by the Medved brothers as one of the 50 worst films of all time, thus ensuring its ongoing cult status); and the ABC special Ridin' the Rails: The Great American Train Story (1974), which featured Johnny Cash. The program was recently re-released by Rhino Records.

West Virginia Breeders' Classic

The West Virginia Breeders Classic is a thoroughbred horse race for West Virginia breds run at a distance of one and one/eighth mile on the dirt. Open to three-year-olds and up, it takes place each year at the Charles Town Races in Charles Town, West Virginia, and currently offers a purse of $500,000. Along with this race are eight other West Virginia Breeders’ races on the same day for West Virginia-bred horses.

In its 29th running as of 2015, the West Virginia Classic and its complement of similar races was created in 1987 by retired Washington Redskins and New York Giants football great Sam Huff. Huff owns thoroughbreds and was born in West Virginia.

In 2014, Russell Road won his third West Virginia Classic, aged 8.

West Virginia Mountaineers football

The West Virginia Mountaineers football team represents West Virginia University (also referred to as "WVU" or "West Virginia") in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of college football. West Virginia plays its home games on Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. The Mountaineers compete in the Big 12 Conference.

With a 752–495–45 record as of the conclusion of the 2018 season, WVU ranks 14th in victories among NCAA FBS programs, and has the most victories among those programs that never claimed nor won a national championship. West Virginia was originally classified as a College Division school in the 1937 season, and joined the University Division, forerunner of Division I, in 1939. It has been a member of Division I FBS since 1978 (known as Division I-A until 2006). The Mountaineers have registered 82 winning seasons in their history, including one unbeaten season (10–0–1) in 1922 and nine seasons with at least ten wins (1922, 1969, 1988, 1993, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2016). The Mountaineers have won or shared a total of 15 conference championships, including eight Southern Conference titles and seven Big East Conference titles.

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