Drew Henson's choice of baseball over football, the pursuit at
which he truly excels, can be baffling. He turned his back on a
legitimate chance at NFL stardom for the life of a struggling
minor leaguer. The seeming illogic lent credence to reports that
he would void the three years and $12 million left on his Yankees
contract and return to the gridiron, speculation the third
baseman dismissed after New York called him up last Friday. "I
play baseball because I love it," he said.
This is an article from the Sept. 15, 2003 issue
Despite mediocre stats, Henson, 23, has shown enough power to
lead Yankees manager Joe Torre to say, "He's going to be a big
league player." Hey, Mike Schmidt hit .196 with 136 strikeouts in
132 games as an error-prone rookie, and he turned out O.K.
Henson's no Schmidt, but his is an admirable persistence: It
defies conventional wisdom and comes from the heart. Today Henson
has pinstripes on his back and a locker next to Roger Clemens.
For the next three years he can chase a dream and make a fortune.
We should all be so lucky. --Daniel G. Habib
The fact is, Henson is a far better quarterback than he is a
third baseman. Before the 2002 draft a wise old Cowboys scout,
Jim Garrett, showed me a report he'd written on Henson, even
though it had been almost two years since Henson took a snap at
Michigan. The report said Henson could be the next Troy Aikman.
"If he was on the board," Garrett said, "he'd be the best player
in this draft." Can any baseball scout say that if Henson sticks
with it he'll be the best player in baseball? Not with a straight
face. As for the time he's been out of football, it's no big
problem. Roger Staubach missed four years. How'd he do when he
got out of the Navy?
The Texans made a nice move last spring by picking Henson in the
sixth round, with an eye toward trading him. Wouldn't it make
sense for a team like the Packers to deal its first-round pick
for a guy who has a shot at greatness? Have Henson shadow Brett
Favre for two years. Henson's passion would be rekindled, and
he'd be doing what he's best at. Starr, Favre, Henson. Lambeau
Field. It could all be yours, kid. --Peter King