I stumbled across an article written today about the death of Chris Henry that just appalled me! The article is titled "Chris Henry Died as he Lived." The goal of the article was basically to cheapen the life of Henry, by stating that it wasn't a surprise that Henry died a violent death.
Henry did make mistakes in life. He was definitely not a saint or that good of a role model, especially during the first few years of his NFL career.
Over the past two years though Henry had been trying to change that perception of himself.
Other articles about Henry paint a completely different picture. They show Henry growing as a person, spending more time practicing with his teammates, spending more time with his fiancé, and most importantly, spending more time with his three kids.
Of course none of those things that I mentioned would be newsworthy.
Another the article that I had a hard time agreeing with was written by Illya Harrell titled, "Chris Henry: Darwin Award Candidate 2009." I'll give him credit it did take guts to write an article like that.
There are a few quotes from the article that leave you scratching your head: "What separates Chris Henry from those other thousands who died on Dec. 17, 2009? Fame? Fortune? Bling, yo? Being a good football player?"
"Say you are a despicable celebrity and you happen to die. All of a sudden people come crawling out of the woodwork to make you into some sort of saint."
Another quote that has absolutely no merit: "But, on a human level, he is just another young black man setting a bad example to black kids everywhere."
These types of articles remind me of the ones that came out after Josh Hamilton relapsed and the media, eight months later, turned it into a major story partly because Hamilton was struggling to hit and was plagued by injuries.
I think the issue is that it's easy to kick someone when they are down or have made mistakes in their life especially if they have been in the media spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Henry's death isn't about putting him up on a pedestal or turning him into a saint as Illya stated.
What about Mike Silver's article, "Henry was Contrite, Optimistic in Camp"?
Here's a quote from the article: "All I can do is relay my impressions: I found Henry to be shy, soft-spoken, and utterly devoid of swagger; he seemed receptive to answering whatever questions I asked, and maybe a little excited that someone was interested; and I got the distinct impression that he’d done a fair amount of self-evaluation and came away liking himself much better than he had before."
I guess that it put Illya's "bling" and "bad example to black kids" comments right out into a different light. If someone was interested in "bling" and being a role model would they really spend time trying to better themselves? Would they spend more time with their teammates?
The best quote from the article from Silver is: "Whatever heights the Bengals might reach over the next two months, Henry’s absence will linger among them as a chilling reminder of life’s fragility. Tragically, we’ll never get to find out what kind of man Henry might have become, how he might have been able to use the lessons he’d learned to touch his children and inspire others."
There goes Illya's conclusion of Henry being a poor example to black children. His death is now the story that could inspire children, regardless of race, to change their behaviors.
Maybe if that doesn't help, there's a quote from Henry's agent, coaches, and teammates:
"For those who knew Chris, he was nothing like his public perception. A loving and caring individual, he was thankful for what he had in life, and proud of what he had overcome."
Marvin Lewis states, "He worked through adversity and came out of it to be a beacon of hope for other people."
Carson Palmer said of Henry, "He's changed his life around. He ran into some trouble, made some bad decisions, and realized that. He's sorry for them, apologized for them, and has done everything he can to make himself a better person. I'm just proud of him."
Now there are also the 911 calls where a woman reported Henry "beating on the back of this truck window...I don't know if he's trying to break in or something. It just looks crazy. It's a girl driving it."
Then the second 911 call that reported Henry lying in the middle of the road "definitely" unconscious.
This is where the assumption of the situation, later called a domestic dispute, arose. Tell me where, in any of the stories related to Henry in this matter, had someone reported it as a case of domestic violence.
I guess it's okay to assume since Henry had been in trouble before with the law that he was probably trying to hurt his fiancé. Yet, it's ignoring the fact that Henry had changed his ways. The problem is that it's easier to suspect someone as doing the wrong then the right thing What if there's a simpler explanation on why he was pounding on the window of the back of the truck?
What if Henry wanted to be inside the truck to talk? What a concept. Actually speaking with his fiancé about their disagreement.
Has anyone every been locked out of their house before, let's say, by a family member? What do you do? Just sit there and wait, or do you bang on the door or ring the doorbell multiple times until that person finally opens the door?
Oh, here's another assumption that can be made: What if Henry felt like she was driving too fast for him to be in the back of the truck?
I believe that Henry was turning the corner to be a great role model for his kids and role model for other kids so they didn't fall into the same trap that he did.
Another reason to be disappointed in those two articles is that they focus on the past and not the present. It's easy to judge someone by what they have done in the past, it's more difficult to judge them for what they are at the present time.
But, luckily for Henry, he had an owner in Mike Brown who was willing to give him a second chance and at least he made efforts to progress to become a better teammate and person.
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