|Henry wants another chance to play in the NFL. (Getty Images)|
Travis Henry, who last played in the NFL in 2007, has been reinstated and can resume his football career. He spent three of the four intervening years in prison for cocaine trafficking but is now an unrestricted free agent free to sign with any team who'll have him. But that's the problem: the Bills' 2001 second-round pick is 33 years old, which in running back years works out to retirement age.
But Henry isn't quite ready to give up on football. He looks to the recent successful prison-to-playing-field transitions of Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress as evidence that he can do it too.
"In my time away, people would know who I was and talk in a disappointed way like I threw away my career," Henry told the Pascoe Tribune's Andy Villamarzo (via the Buffalo News' Tim Graham). "It just haunts me when I think about it. I see guys like Vick and Burress and say 'Why can't that be me?'"
Look, there's no denying that Henry made a lifetime of bad choices in a four or five-year span. But the reason "Why can't that be me?" comes down to this: he's a running back. They're a dime a dozen and while there's a difference between the Adrian Petersons and LeSean McCoys of the world and everybody else, the reality its that there's not that much difference. As in: a team can win with an average group of backs if they have a franchise quarterback, a big-play wide receiver, a stout offensive line, a solid defense or some combination of all these.
Michael Vick, even after two years out of the league, was still an exceptional talent. And the Jets had a need at wide receiver that only Burress and his 6-5 frame could fill. (Remember, he replaced another big target, Braylon Edwards). If a team is looking for depth at running back, there are younger, cheaper options than Henry, who rushed for 6,086 yards and 38 touchdowns during his seven years in the league but will also be 34 in October. (It's also worth pointing out that while Vick is one of the league's 10 best quarterbacks, Burress only lasted a year in New York and is currently looking for work.)
"People make mistakes,'' Henry said. ''It's what you do after to get back up. I just want to show young kids that people make mistakes and you can get up and you can fight. You can't ever let anyone tell you 'You can't' because, trust me, a lot people told me that being reinstated was going to be impossible."
And that's admirable. It's just unlikely that part of Henry's redemption story will involve another stint in the NFL.
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