The Death of Chris Henry Shakes the NFL

LVCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2009

CINCINNATI - 2007:  Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals poses for his 2007 NFL headshot at photo day in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

The NFL was shaken by the tragic news that Bengals WR Chris Henry had passed away from injuries suffered from an accident


As someone, who is part of the “NFL Family”, I can only feel remorse today (December 17, 2009) as the Charlotte police confirmed that Cincinnati Bengals WR Chris Henry, age 26, passed away this morning at 6:36 a.m. ET. Henry had been on life support since yesterday when he fell out of the back of a pickup truck following a domestic dispute with his fiancée Loleini Tonga. 

The death of Henry brings a sad ending to a once-promising career that had recently re-blossomed after the former high draft pick (third round—83rd overall in the 2005 NFL Draft) had put aside some earlier troubles (arrests and league mandated suspensions) to finally grow-up. 

Henry was a five-year NFL veteran who used his speed and wiry frame (6’4, 190) to excel at catching the “deep ball”—averaged 15.6 yards per catch for his career. 

Earlier in his career, Henry’s immaturity off the field affected his standing on the Bengals and threatened his career in the NFL overall. 

At one point a couple of years ago, Henry and his former University of West Virginia teammate Adam “Pacman” Jones were linked as the baddest of the NFL’s “Bad Boys”, which raised the ire of NFL Commission and chief disciplinarian Roger Goodell.  But after Henry was given a second chance in 2008 by the Goodell and the Bengals, namely head coach Marvin Lewis, he came back to the team a changed man when Cincy re-signed him in August 2008. 

Henry made good on and off the field to become a key member of 2009 AFC North leaders until he was sidelined with a broken arm on Nov. 8. “It’s a very difficult thing with his loss,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said, “and a young life that won’t ever get to reach his full potential.” 

Henry’s former teammate and friend, Chad Ochocinco, was very emotional when recalling his teammate of five years.

Ochocinco choked back tears as he said to reporters in the Bengals locker room, “Chris was a very good, very good friend of mine, we were extremely close. It’s sad to see that it’s come to this point.”  Ochocinco added, “He was doing everything right. He’s been doing everything right…My grandma always says you never really question the man upstairs on decisions he makes because he never makes mistakes, but I don’t see how Chris was supposed to go already. Especially when you’re on the right path."

Henry’s death is the second traumatic loss for the Bengals this season. Unfortunately earlier in the 2009 season, Vikki Zimmer, the wife of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, unexpectedly passed away just days before the Bengals won at Baltimore

The Bengals (9-4) are on the cusp of claiming the AFC North title and solidifying their playoff dream, but you have to wonder how they will deal with this tragic loss. No one has a crystal ball, but we do know is that the Bengals have suffered a horrible loss that will surely take time to heal, but unfortunately they also have to play the San Diego Chargers this Sunday—sometimes the NFL machine can be pretty cruel the way it keeps rolling on. 

Here’s hoping that Bengals family can pull together for a second time this season.

Henry’s career numbers will stand at 119 receptions for 1826 yards with 15.3 yards per catch average and 21 TDs. He is survived by his fiancée and the three children that they were raising.

R.I.P Chris Henry, you were taken away from us too soon.