To give you an idea of Chris Henry before the 2008 regular season, one could watch a few seasons of The Wire (one of the better shows I've seen in ages). Suddenly, something nailed him like a well placed punch of reality, which spoke to him: you have talent, you have opportunity, you have everything if you want it. Take it. It's yours. Henry listened this time. And after his latest trouble turned out to be nothing more than wasted time on a dropped lawsuit, the Bengals signed Henry to a two-year deal. Bengals fans were far more than skeptical. We were enraged in our classic, what the hell, moments. In fact, let's go back in time, shall we?
April 3, 2008. Henry released. Cincy Jungle headline reads: "Bengals release Chris Henry -- adios, idiot". Perhaps we were a little over-enthusiastic. But if anything described fans feelings regarding Henry at the time, that's close enough.
July 17, 2008. Henry's agent at the time said several teams were interested in Henry, including Cincinnati. We wrote:
There's no question about his talent. And though I'm not as weighted on the character bandwagon like many others, I do see the point that Henry's conduct has forced his limitation on the field -- i.e., suspensions. In a sense, you can't trust the guy. You can't trust him to remain clean with the constant threat of suspensions hovering over the team's head. That's simple dependability.
August 7, 2008. It was learned that Henry was seen at Bengals camp during last year's training camp. I wrote, "based on 3rd-grade logic, I just don't see it and most scenarios that invite his return, are too far-fetched." Nailed that one, didn't I?
August 13, 2008, I wrote "Chris Henry isn't coming back to Cincinnati. If he does, I'll leave this job." Hopefully no one noticed.
August 19, 2008. Reports started surfacing that Henry was signing a contract with the Bengals. A few hours later, the signing became official. We wrote:
For the most part, writers and responders from other sites are generally the same. They're optimistically cautious that Henry will help this team, but aren't sold that signing Henry was the wisest of choices. First off, the publicity is something the team wants to avoid. Surely, people are questioning the Bengals decision.
August 20, 2008. It was learned that Marvin Lewis had zero influence on whether the Bengals signed Henry or not. We wrote:
I understand and applaud those that talk about the team's integrity and being forced to wonder if Henry will be arrested on any given night, before any given Sunday. The jokes will return, the confusion and head shaking grows with intensity. On the other hand, you can't argue Henry's physical talents. When he played, he's the most lethal and productive third wide receiver on any team right now. And if there's reasons why Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh can't go, the Bengals are lucky to have a talented guy like Henry step into the void and limit any production degradation.
Henry missed the first four-games of 2008, serving out a four-game suspension handed down by Chancellor Roger Goodell. In the twenty games he played on the two-year contract, Henry caught 31 passes for 456 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Henry suffered a broken arm against the Baltimore Ravens.
The progressive feeling of Chris Henry fascinates me. His talent is one thing. But going from what he was, to what he is now, is remarkable. He learned. He grew.
Henry's scheduled to become a free agent after this season and could sign with any team. C Trent tweets: "Chris Henry says he'd prefer to return to Bengals". And damn it, I believe the Bengals should sign him. No, they better sign him.
Man, how things can change in a year.