I am not writing this in order to generate controversy.
I am not writing this in order to be disrespectful.
No. I am writing this in order to properly place things in perspective.
I am a die-hard Steelers fan. I have been since I first witnessed the game of football during Super Bowl XXX. Despite living and dying with the Steelers success or lack thereof this season, I am no homer. In fact, I feel that they ruin the game of football by not being able to acknowledge the greatness of players on rival teams, or at least not until they hit free agency.
With that said, I truly cared about Chris Henry when he was alive. Despite the fact that he was a pivotal piece of the 2005 and 2006 Bengals - heavy rivals to the Steelers during that period - I always liked him.
"Why?" you may ask. Well it's simple. Henry was a prominent and modern day story of how the NFL often helps underprivileged youths turn their lives around through the game of football. Henry had always been subject to legal trouble throughout his life, however, his immense amount of talent allowed him to make it to the NFL. Though he never quite reached that status, he always reminded me of Randy Moss. I mean he measurables were there.
Henry was a 6'4'' wide receiver that ran the fly, post and counterpost routes to perfection and could catch anything in traffic; just like a young Randy Moss. His attitude - perhaps acquired from his troubled youth - would not allow him to drop the difficult receptions in traffic. For this reason Carson Palmer would constantly say that he felt that Chris Henry could and would beat any cornerback in the NFL and if the cornerback was in man coverage against Henry than he was going to him. Unfortunately for Henry he was always buried on the depth chart between two All-Pro caliber receivers. That didn't stop him from being one of the league's best slot receivers though.
Unfortunately, Henry's troubles were persistent and as a result he was cut from the Bengals following the 2007-08 season and no team really saw interest in him due to his off the field issues. However, later in the year it had seemed as if Henry had turned his life around and was testament to how this league helps turn around young individuals' lives. Unfortunately, the layoff from OTAs and other activities was obvious - as was the absence of Carson Palmer - and as a result Henry looked out of shape.
To my enjoyment Henry returned this season and was continuing to be a model citizen. Unfortunately his season was cut short on a seemingly routine reception against the Ravens in which he fractured his forearm. Watching it live was disgusting as one could see the point where the bone had seperated as there was a dimple in his arm where the flesh had caved in due to lack of bone holding it up.
As this event transpired I found myself saying "Oh no! Henry had just gotten his life back on track both on and off the field and now this." Little did we know that his inability to play football would probably lead to Henry's bout with recidivism.
So do I feel as if Chris Henry should be remembered?
Well of course! He was a human being after all! One that I found interesting during his entire career. However, that is not where my gripe is. My gripe is that during the 16 games to be played this weekend Henry will be honored with a moment of silence at each respective game. Let's assume each stadium has about 50,000 individuals present. That is 800,000 individuals alone in addition to the millions watching via television.
My problem here is that millions will be mourning an individual that most of them knew nothing about. Some will herald him as a hero or something else or simply place him as a great young man. While he might have been that there are great young men and women who are dying overseas in the name of freedom for faces that they may never see.
There are thousands of men and women who are shot at on a daily basis in trying to make out stateside livelihood better by preventing crimes.
There are thousands of men and women that run into burning buildings and save lives daily.
Hell, there are thousands of men and women who educate our youth every day and open doors for them on a daily basis with education.
These individuals are heroes and yet the NFL honors them very minimally with a day here or there or not at all. Yet Chris Henry - who had seven runins with the law since 2004 and several on-the-field scuffles - will be remembered more than Specialist Tony Carrasco Jr. who gave his life for his country in November? Doesn't seem fair to me. If PacMan Jones passed away tomorrow the National Football League would probably not honor him, however, because Henry was given the second chance - admittedly because of his own volition to change - the NFL ignores his checkered past? Correct me if I am wrong but Henry passed away during a checkered incident!
I feel horrible that it seems as if I am talking down on this young man's life. However, there has to be some semblence of perspective placed here. One man passes saving lives and nobody talks about him. The other passes away during a domestic dispute with his wife and will be remembered because the uniform he wore was to entertain rather than protect. Doesn't seem fair.
Rest In Peace Chris Henry. As much as I'd like to see the Bengals lose an opportunity at a bye this week I pray they play with heavy hearts for you. However, let us not pretend Henry was a Saint - and no, I do not mean a member of the football team. If we're going to remember Henry, let's remember him in order to show what football did for his life and how when he was afforded the chance to play he stayed out of trouble; just like numerous youths in our country.