This morning Chris Henry passed away. At 26 years old his life was taken in an accident and beyond the ambulance ride and the passing there aren't many details. It is sad, it does hurt. Not only for the fact that he was a guy who seemed to finally get it, but simply because he was one of us. He was a football player. He gave his blood, he gave his tears and he gave his body to the game. The tragedy hits home for his fiance, for his kids, for his family. They'll mourn more than I could ever imagine because a young, vibrant, "get it" guy was taken without warning.
I don't know Chris Henry. Never played with him, met him once here in Charlotte but it was brief. This article isn't about that, its more of a personal manifesto. A tribute to football players everywhere. A tribute to life and a tribute to the game I love. A tribute to relationships that were never written down but always existed. A tribute to every man who coached me, every man who strapped it up with me and in the end every man who put on the gear before, with and after me.
Football is game, but it is so much more. It is a family. It is a brethren built on blood, sweat and tears. It is a unification of men for one common goal.
I can openly admit that every guy I played with wasn't my favorite. There were plenty of guys I couldn't stand. Guys that made my skin crawl and disgusted me. BUT, I knew they were all in the way I was. They believed in the same goal I believed in. They wanted the same championship, title, bowl game and in the end victory that I wanted. I didn't like every guy I played with, but I loved everyone one of them.
Lavar Arrington, at Sean Taylor's funeral, was the first guy that made me cognisant of this fact; we don't say I love you enough.
Well, I'm sitting here, with tears flowing for Chris Henry, for his family and ultimately for the game, and I'm saying it hoping everyone one of my teammates reads this, I love you.
I love everyone of you. I love the locker room pranks, the training camp fights, the weight room sessions, the vomiting at 5 am, the nights out on the town and the moments we've shared together. On a larger scale I love the guys who played the game. I'm not discounting guys who didn't play but, do understand that we all are in a fraternity. The higher up you go the more exclusive it gets. Pee Wee football is bond. Middle school football is a bond. High School football is a bond. College football is a bond. NFL football is a bond.
Everybody won't get this. Some people will find it pedantic, simplistic, repetitive or elitist. Everyone isn't a football player. Affluent or poor we all belong together. We all know what its like to deal with burning lungs at 6 am as you try to get that last 110. We all know what it is like to do that last hang clean when your hands can't even grip the bar and the chalk isn't helping. We all know what it is like to walk out of practice or off season conditioning five pounds lighter.
Whether its East Meck High School, Alabama, Texas, the Jets, the Steelers or Montana:
We are all football players.
We lost a brother, take the time to tell one of yours that you love him before it is too late.