A Final Word on Robert Henson
Man, I can't believe I'm still writing about this. Final item, I promise. If you want to write "you're an attention-seeking moron for writing so much about an inactive rookie linebacker," I won't complain, and I won't even disagree.
As you might have heard, I wrote an A1 story about Robert Henson and his interactions with fans via Twitter Sunday night. Now, did I do this because I or the Washington Post hate the Redskins, or because we wanted to shame or embarrass Robert Henson, or because we think this is the key issue facing this franchise in 2009? No, no and no.
It's just kind of an interesting new media story about the ways players and fans interact, methods that are pretty radically different from what might have happened a few decades ago. And, let's be honest, some of the quotes were pretty explosive, which made it more compelling.
When I talked to Skins players, several weren't sure what to say, but Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter both spoke passionately about Henson being young and making a mistake.
"He's young, he'll learn from this and he'll move on," Daniels said. "He's a good guy....He ain't a bad guy at all. The fans got to know that, and he just made a mistake, being young."
Henson also apologized Monday, very sincerely, appropriately and politely. But I guess there was some sentiment in Ashburn that more writing from The Post required more response. So the Redskins.com story went with this lede: "Robert Henson did not get on the field on Sunday, but somehow he's the talk of the town and strangely enough he's a big headline in The Washington Post." And Henson apparently called Larry Michael's crew and asked to make a video response, which was posted under the headline "Henson Reacts to Story."
Again, he handled himself great. Because I don't want anyone to think I'm hiding his point of view, and because I think the response from the organization (i.e. Michael) is sometimes more interesting than the original incident itself, here's a transcript. And then, no more.
Michael: Hey it's Larry Michael with Redskins rookie linebacker Robert Henson, and yes, we are here, it's about 11 pm on a Monday night, and Robert gave us a call and wanted to come on the air. So why don't you tell the fans out there why you're here tonight.
Henson: Well basically to just clear the air. I mean, I heard about the story that was supposed to run, and it's a little disheartening to see. I felt like the apology was sincere, it really was, and I felt like there are bigger issues at hand than what I twittered about or the mistake that I made, you know?
Michael: Now coming off the field, obviously the emotions were running high for Robert Henson, and in fact you didn't get a chance to participate in the game. You're trying to make a career here with the Redskins, and you admitted to the mistake publicly today in an apology, didn't you?
Henson: Yeah, I did. It's been tough watching from the sidelines, just being anxious and I'm trying to get myself ready to play and this is just a distraction that I take full responsibility for, and I'm just trying to get past it and just make sure I get on the field and give the fans something to cheer about.
Michael: Now I was asking you before we came into the studio when the last time you didn't play in a football game, how long ago has it been, because you have made the football team but have been inactive so far this year, so when was the last time you didn't play and how frustrating has it been for you?
Henson: The last time I didn't play I think was my freshman year of college. Got red-=shirted, I thought I'd play but I got red-shirted, and that was tough, because I like to think of myself as a participator, not a spectator. I like to get on the field and contribute any way I can.
Michael: It makes me proud to part of the organization, folks, to be able to be here at a moment like this for a young man like this who wanted to speak to the Redskins fans directly, after seeing what would be published, and after going through what he went through the last 24 hours. And in fact you also told me after the tweet that one of your first jobs was at a McDonald's restaurant in fact. So some of what you said obviously was passion for the way that game unfolded and because obviously coming off the field the Redskins would have wished to have scored more points. It was a tough environment, but you guys did win the ballgame, and unfortunately you made a mistake.
Henson: Yeah. It was passion that fueled most of it. A little bit, well a lot of emotion actually. I'm in the building every day, I see the work that the coaches put in, from the top to the bottom, the players, and it was just disheartening to kind of see, but I made a mistake. I'm taking full responsibility for it, I just want to clear it up for the city and the fans. I mean, they're the reason we're here and they're the reason that we go out every Sunday and try to come back with a W.
Michael: Robert finally, I think personally for me--and again, you're half my age--but it takes a big man to come in and do what you're doing here tonight. Any final thoughts for the fans out there?
Henson: Stay tuned. The Redskins, we got a lot more football to play, and again, I don't want to take any attention away from the team because I think we have a great opportunity this year to make Washingtonians happy.
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