The NFL has lost one of it’s more conflicted stars.
Cincinnati Bengals troubled wide-reciever, Chris Henry died yesterday, a day after falling out of the back of a pick-up truck and hitting his head.
He was 26.
Henry’s brief time in the NFL is the prime example of how things can go horribly wrong for someone with so much promise and praise.
He was one of the best players in the history of the West Virginia football program and was drafted by the Bengals in the third-round in 2005 and came to the team with much fanfare – and baggage.
In his rookie year he caught 31 passes for 422 yards and 6 touchdowns and the following year dodged the sophmore slump by making 36 catches for 605 yards and 9 touchdowns.
But as good as Henry was at escaping defenders – he could never run away from the law.
Henry’s wrap-sheet includes drunk-driving offense, gun charges, marijuana possession, assault and criminal damaging.
From 2006-2008, he was suspended for 14 games total for violating a number of NFL conduct policies and had been deemed, along with “Pacman” Jones, to be the biggest troublemaker in the league.
He was released by the Bengals in April of 2008 while serving 7 months house arrest for throwing a beer bottle through the window of a man’s car who he believed owed him money...but it was the wrong guy.
He was re-signed not long after that by Cincinnati because of a number of injuries to their wide reciever core, and because of a promise that Henry had cleaned up his act...and he had.
He was a father to three kids and wanted to get his life back on track and continue his life in football.
But it was short-lived.
In November of this year he was placed on injured reserve because of a broken forearm – and never played again.
In a weird twist of irony, it was nothing to do with his criminal record that got him killed, it was an injury he incurred on the football field, while trying to prove to doubters around the NFL that he was a changed man.
If he was not injured that day, he would have been in Cincinnati, practicing with his team and preparing for a game against San Diego – a game in which, if they won, they would be crowned division champs.
Instead he was in Charlotte, North Carolina where it appears he got into an argument with his fiancee who got into a pickup truck and drove away...Henry chased after her, jumped into the back of the truck, but fell and never recovered.
Was Chris Henry a bad guy? I don’t know. Was he someone I would want on my football team? Probably not. Am I mad when I see athletes with all the talent in the world, flush it all away for whatever reason? Definately. If I had half his talent, I’d have a pretty good NFL career under my belt when it was all said and done.
But watching the reaction of players around the Cincinnati locker room, you can’t help but feel bad for the guy.
Chris Henry was 26 and still had probably a half-decade left in the NFL before his death.
But instead it’s just a sad ending to a life that suffered more hits off the field than on it.