Sunday, November 16, 2008

Like Henson Was the Devil Incarnate or Something

One more piece of evidence to prove how football fans suck in Michigan means checking out this article in the Detroit Free Press about how Drew Henson has dealt with his disappointing professional sports career.

For those of you who don't know, here's a history of Drew Henson from 1997 to today. His senior year of high school was my senior year in 1997-1998. He was a highly-touted two-sport athlete from Brighton, MI, where he excelled in football and baseball. In 1998, he went to Michigan to play both sports for the Wolverines. His first two years he backed up Tom Brady, even though he played sparingly his freshmen and sophomore years.

In 2000, he led the Wolverines to a share of the Big Ten title and was expected to be a Heisman finalist in 2001, and then a for-sure, 1st Round pick in the NFL Draft in 2002. Did I mention he was a two-sport athlete? Apparently he excelled in baseball at Michigan, too.

So well that in fact, New York Yankees owner (and Ohio State man) George Steinbrenner offered him a multi-million dollar contract with the Yankees in a "take it or leave it" fashion in early 2001. Henson's choice was simple: either take the money, play pro baseball, and forget about football, or risk a good chance you'll never see that kind of money again. He opted to sign with New York for the money.

Apparently, his choice didn't quite pan out. Henson played some pro, but it turns out he couldn't hit a Major League curve ball. His lifetime batting average: .111 (1-for-9). By 2004, he had given up on baseball and looked to football again.

In 2003, the Houston Texans drafted him in the 6th round with the intent to trade him if he were to opt for the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys traded a 3rd round pick in 2004 for the rights to Henson and the most playing time he saw was either in the preseason or when he was allocated to the NFL Europe. His first career start came on Thanksgiving Day, where he played the first half until being pulled after going 4-for-12 with a TD and a pick.

Unfortunately for Henson, despite his success in the NFL Europe, Coach Bill Parcells soured on Henson and by 2006, he was no longer the future of the organization. Instead, Parcells opted for Tony Romo. Meanwhile, Tom Brady, whom Henson competed with at Michigan, had all but replaced Jesus as God's favorite son in New England (and Earth). After two years with Minnesota on the team and practice squad, Henson had been all but out of football by 2007.

2008 came around and the Detroit Lions needed an extra QB while Drew Stanton mended his injuries. Henson played the final game of the preseason, was cut, and then signed to the practice squad. After Jon Kitna was placed on IR after Week 3, Henson was elevated to the roster, the No. 3 man on the depth chart. Another injury to QB Dan Orlovsky, and the Lions signed free agent Daunte Culpepper. Because Orlovsky is avoiding IR, Henson was cut earlier this week and re-signed to the practice squad.

Henson was interviewed by Charean Williams who quotes him as feeling good about himself right now. "I feel better than I ever have in a long time." says Henson. He thinks he still has a shot at making a career in the NFL, and I for one, hope he gets another chance to play as a full-time starter.

But you'd be amazed at the amount of hate and negativity that just emanates from Lions fans, Wolverine fans, and just sports fans in general in Michigan. After reading the article, I scrolled down to the bottom of the page to see what comments had been left. And wouldn't you know, you'd think the article was about fucking Hitler, something. Here's some of the quotes I picked up on:

Henson had it all set up to fully realize his potential at UM in his senior year, but he blew it by kowtowing to George Steinbrenner's demands (and money). There is no way he will ever fulfill that potential now."

"Happy to be cut and never considered as a viable QB. Good feeling to have if you're a non-competitive person. Good call by the Lions to cut him.

"Here's another 'loser' the Lions camp out on to 'rob' a potentially good rookie kid of some valuable NFL Pro time! Face it, to go and dig up a Henson that was tossed out of football like a used rubber...tire, is again why the Lions are where they're at in the NFL.CELLAR! Who makes these decissions like Henson? You have Culpepper and Henson...rejects from the NFL (Kitna isn't to far off)....and they won't play the kid Stanton in fear of embarassment?"

"Thanks for the memories Drew, especially throwing that critical pick against MSU when they beat your $^%&!"

I'm guessing maybe the last quote was by an MSU fan. But is Drew Henson really a "loser?" Can people not be thankful for the good things he did while at Michigan? It seems as though once they pass through the college ranks and into the pro threshold that if you somehow don't wind up a Pro-Bowl caliber athlete that you're a loser and this huge disgrace.

What I really think people need to put into perspective is this: Drew Henson, as an individual, was an incredibly gifted athlete. A gift that was that was so rare, he was able to play in two different professional sports.

Did it ever occur to anyone when he picked baseball that maybe, just maybe, he liked baseball more than football? I don't know if he did and I don't know what he thinks. I do know that if I were 20 and someone dropped over $10 million at my front door, I'd have taken it.

Some say he cost himself a chance at more money if he stayed at Michigan one more year. Well, what if he was injured to the point he couldn't have a career in the NFL, or MLB? Do the names Jason White and Eric Crouch come to mind? I don't have stats in front of me, but I'm willing to bet the injuries from a long-term career in pro football are more common, more wide ranging, more severe, and retirees are just plain more miserable than former baseball players.

Either way, I wish football had panned out for Drew Henson. I'm sure he does too, although he could feel the same way about baseball, if not more so. He has yet to write the final chapter of his football journey, and maybe if he turns out to be another Rich Gannon, he could have more chapters to write some day.

Otherwise, don't waste your time wallowing in contempt and hate for Drew. If he's a loser, then how many millions did you make by moaning on some newspaper's comment section about him?

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