Last weekend was one Frank Herzog will likely never forget.
Friday, January 6, he was talking with Kevin Sheehan on the 980 The Team 980’s “The Kevin Sheehan Show.” When the topic became the Sonny Jurgensen jersey retirement, Sheehan inquired if Herzog was going to be in attendance at FedEx Field for the season finale against Dallas.
Herzog stated he was not and was going to watch it in the comfort of his home. Sheehan then asked if Herzog had been invited. Herzog calmly replied he had not and clearly did not push the issue any further.
Understandably, Sheehan was frustrated Herzog had not been invited, voiced it and the Commanders became the object of scorn and ridicule for the next couple of hours on social media.
Herzog departed for a short period of time and upon his return found a message on his voicemail. It was Julie Donaldson of the Commanders. She was apologizing for the fact that Frank had not been officially invited. Herzog says she was clear she wanted him there to participate in the finale honoring Sonny Jurgensen. “I was caught completely by surprise,” expressed Herzog.
When they connected a few moments later, Donaldson explained to Herzog there had been earlier discussions of having Herzog come, but between the Jurgensen family requesting only family and a few close friends, the organization regrettably had not followed up on it to get him there.
The Commanders conveyed to Herzog they would fly him and get him to FedEx. They wanted him there. “Sure, I’d be happy to come, ” and they made the flight arrangements Friday for Frank.
It was great for Herzog to be wanted by the organization. He had certainly earned it, having been the play-by-play announcer for Redskins football games from the 1979-2004 seasons. He broadcast four Washington Super Bowls, and five NFC championship games and did all of them with a Redskins legend on both sides of him, linebacker Sam Huff and quarterback Sonny Jurgensen.
Photo courtesy of Julie Donaldson and the Washington Commanders.
But Herzog wasn’t always famous and in high demand in Washington, D.C. He had spent some time in the United States Air Force in the 1960s in tech school at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. He got his first experience working in radio, on the weekends at KGKL spinning records.
Frank came to Washington DC, would enroll at American University, majoring in Political Science, and wanted to continue working in radio. He nagged the boss for a job, and the boss finally relented and offered a position as a WTOP copyboy making $2 an hour.
Frank took the job and worked up next to the production assistant position which involved taking news feeds from the network and editing them to put on the WTOP station broadcast.
“When the boss asked me why I wanted the WTOP job I replied, ‘Because my foot is in the door.'” It would prove to be the first of several large doors Frank would get his foot into over the next decade.
On Monday (part two) Frank Herzog from news reporter to sports play-by-play announcer