Monday, October 10, 2005

What ever happened to Drew Henson?

Once America's ultimate athletic Golden Boy, Drew Henson is now a backup to Tony Romo. Romo, oddly enough, was born two months after Henson in the same city (San Diego), but he and Henson have taken vastly divergent paths to the Dallas Cowboys bench. While Romo toiled in the obscurity of the Ohio Valley Conference, starring at quarterback for Eastern Illinois, but going undrafted out of college, Henson was choosing between playing quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines or third base for the New York Yankees (for awhile, he did both, although his baseball was played in the Yankees' farm system). Of course this was after being named both the best football and baseball player in the country in high school.

After leading Michigan to a share of the Big Ten title in 2000, it probably would have made the most athletic sense for him to stick to football, where his future success appeared to be most certain. But then again, have the Yankees ever offered you $17 million? The real question at the time was whether he might be able to become the white Deion Sanders/Bo Jackson. Turns out he may have more in common with Jason Garrett (for those who aren't sports nerds like me, Garrett was a long-time backup quarterback, mostly playing for the Cowboys behind Troy Aikman).

So what went wrong and why? Well, first of all, Henson couldn't hit a curveball. Despite struggling in the minors, he eventually got a brief chance to show his stuff at the big league level, but the results were not pretty. Then, realizing that he may have been better off sticking to football in the first place, Henson decided to go back. The Cowboys traded the Texans a 2005 third round pick for the rights to the former Golden Boy in hopes that he would become the next Aikman. He started one game last season before being replaced by Vinny Testaverde who then led the Cowboys to victory. Slightly embarrassing for someone supposed to be the quarterback of the future.

Henson is still only 25, so he is not finished yet. And he did make a nice amount of money from the Yankees. But his tale is still a cautionary one. And it tells us how difficult the jump is from college to professional sports. In addition, the example of Drew Henson will lead to even more specialization in sports as players realize how difficult it is to master two such diverse skill sets. Henson couldn't just go back to playing quarterback after three years playing third base, no matter how athletically gifted he is. So rest assured, Deion and Bo, you have secured your places in modern sports history. For example, the most recent Drew Henson-type, Greg Paulus, has given up football to concentrate on basketball at Duke.

1 comment:

  1. this post is the second one listed when you search for drew henson on technorati.